Celebrities Desirous of Becoming Political Figures

Reality television host Donald Trump and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan are three of the most well-known people to bridge the divide between Hollywood and politics, but they aren’t the only ones willing to do so.

According to a recent survey, 46% of Americans would support Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a potential run for president, and the actor responded to the news on Instagram in April.

“I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club,” he said in his post, “but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve you, the people.”

Johnson has expressed interest in running for president on many occasions in the past and has even made a 2032 presidential run one of the plot points on his NBC series Young Rock.

In addition to Johnson, on March 19, 2018, the lifelong New Yorker and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon declared her candidacy for New York governor but was ultimately defeated by incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

Actor Matthew McConaughey has also expressed a serious interest in running for governor of Texas. He has not voted in a Texas primary election since at least 2012, according to state voting data, which may indicate which party he favors. He has made no donations to any party. He’s still tight-lipped on whether he will run as a Democrat, Republican, or anything else.

McConaughey has spoken out about gun violence and called for stricter policies to combat it, but he avoids becoming involved in public issues on a regular basis.

In 2017, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal revealed his intention to run for sheriff in 2020, but he later changed his mind and decided to run in 2024. He has not yet revealed which state he would like to run in.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, O’Neal has served as a reserve officer for the Doral Police Department in Florida, as well as for Miami Beach; Tempe, Arizona; and the Port of Los Angeles. He was sworn in as a deputy in Clayton County in December 2016 and will be the head of community affairs for the Henry County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia in 2021.

Most recently, Caitlyn Jenner revealed that she is strongly considering a Senate run as a Republican, but her popularity in the LGBTQ community has plummeted to new lows. “I hope to change the perception of the Republican Party and make it the party of equality,” she said unironically in a radio interview with New York’s AM 970, the Los Angeles Times reported. Jenner will make a decision within the next six months.

The Olympic gold medalist, transgender rights activist, and former reality TV star is a longtime Republican who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Jenner has filed papers to run against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election, according to Wonderwall.

Essentially, celebrities are in a good position to do well in a political world where wealth and popularity are important factors in winning elections. In a study, research discovered that well-known candidates who polled in the double digits continued to gain higher shares of the primary vote in presidential elections. Meanwhile, candidates with lower name identification only made it to the general election on rare occasions. Andrew Yang, for instance, did not have much name recognition heading into the 2020 Democratic primary, but he’s now reaping the rewards of a shocking finish behind top-tier contenders in his run for New York City mayor.

Since celebrities seldom have prior governmental experience, they often lack the expertise and history required for success in government. This isn’t always the case, though: Reagan became a popular public figure, especially among conservatives, and his presidency inspired much of modern Republican politics. On the other hand, Trump lost supporters at the end of his presidency, faced backlash from within his own party for his behavior, and left office with an approval rating in the low 30s—even though many Republicans still support him.

Ultimately, it seems likely that celebrities are seen as appealing replacements for politicians who are universally disliked because of how divided politics have become.

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