The Last Thing America Needs Is Another Celebrity President. So Stop Asking For It!
The next President of The United States of America must be the exact opposite of Donald Trump.
That is what will define the next good American Presidency.
Today's Administration is defined by scandal, division, bombast, bigotry, lunacy, hilarity, memes, jokes, fear, confusion, not-so-subtle penis-size metaphors, and Twitter.
For some, this is the result of the "fake news media" refusing to let Trump "do his job". For others, this is because Trump is an idiot and a fraud whose disdain for the rule of law is eclipsed only by his mental instability. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, in the very real world, this Presidency, and the discord that defines it, has hurt our country's standing in the world and made it even harder for our government to function.
We're operating less like a country and more like a reality television show. That should concern every American citizen. We are The Real United Stats of America starring Donald J. Trump and a cast of feckless congressmen, tiki-torch bigots, condescending coastal elites, working-class whites, and an assortment of late night talk show hosts who have forsaken comedy in favor of moral arbitration.
We all play our parts exceedingly well at this point.
If our democracy survives this terribly stupid episode of The Real United States, it will be because cooler, bi-partisan heads prevailed, fair-minded leaders reemerged, activists were finally heard, thoughtful legislators with a deep understanding of domestic and foreign policy retook the reigns of government, and a reinvigorated American people showed up at the polls and out-voted gerrymandering.
It won't be because another rich celebrity challenged Donald Trump to a wrestling match.
But that seems to be exactly what a lot of my fellow progressives want.
Whether it’s Oprah, Tom Hanks, or The Rock (an actual pro-wrestler) many progressives seem giddy at the prospect of a showdown between Trump and a celebrity foil. This is a deeply disturbing trend because it means we haven't learned anything useful from the election of Donald Trump.
The problem of Donald Trump (and what his Presidency represents) is not solved by normalizing the destructive process that allowed him to gain power.
The problem of Donald Trump is solved by you, the American citizen, refusing to believe the myth of the benevolent billionaire.
I understand the appeal of Oprah, The Rock, and Hanks.
I love each of those famous people. A lot!
I also understand that The Democrats are desperate for leadership and terrified they can’t beat Mr. Apprentice. But there is no progressive version of Trumpism that actually helps America. There is only the same destructive deference to rich people with big personalities.
There is only a desire to believe complex problems have quick, easy solutions.
Powerful celebrities like Oprah, The Rock, and Hanks are, conceptually, not the opposite of Donald Trump, and so they are not what America needs in 2020 no matter how much we love them and no matter what their intentions may be.
Like Trump, they are famous people whose good judgement is taken for granted because they are famous people. This fallacious reasoning must not be allowed to penetrate American politics any more than it already has. It doesn't matter how fair, intelligent, or progressive a celebrity may be - celebrity itself is the opposite of democracy.
Just consider how celebrity-worship actually functions in a society.
It is a kind of citizen-endorsed dictatorship. What's dictated is a sense of how to live better; the fan knowingly defers all judgment to an idol commonly regarded as cooler, better-looking, more talented, smarter, or richer, and that idol's judgement is tacitly endorsed by the fan.
This is why fans make such terrible citizens. Reality matters so much less to a fan than whether or not their idol provides them with a general sense of access and comfort. The celebrity doesn't need to work too hard to maintain the loyalty of their fans. They just need to behave in a manner that aligns with the fan's previous perception of them. This makes it very easy for the celebrity to lie to their fans. If we thought of our government officials in this way then we would be less likely to hold them accountable. And when the press inevitably did hold that celebrity-politician accountable, we'd be inclined to blame the press.
The fan's desire for validation supercedes the citizen's need for effective leadership.
Many Americans just don’t know what “effective leadership” even means in government anymore. Our values are rooted in more easily comprehended systems like box office returns, television ratings, beauty standards, gender roles, and social media followers.
To vote according to these values, whether one is conservative or progressive, is fundamentally un-American.
It is the purposeful subjugation of one’s decision-making power as a voter, a willingness to forego learning how government actually works and a reliance solely upon one's fandom of a charismatic individual. Participating in that process unwittingly redefines America as a form of entertainment rather than a form of society.
That is the same thought-process that birthed Trump's Real United States Of America. It's like a seed that will forever bear rotten fruit. That seed is now being watered by progressives who are eager for their own celebrity savior, and I urge them to stop immediately.
If someone like Hanks, Oprah, or The Rock were elected President in a progressive response to Trump, it would do nothing but solidify the Presidency as a means of enriching one’s brand. America, and The Presidency, would no longer be something by, for, and of the people; it would be, transparently, a corporate enterprise that caters to the few at the expense of the many. It would become nothing but a perpetual series of executive-order-reversals that masquerade as the ever-evolving will of the people.
And if you think that's what the government has always been...well...you are in for a very rude awakening.
The Presidency will be transformed into a kingship or queenship inherited only by those with egos and pockets big enough to fit America’s starring role.
There’s no closing that Pandora’s Box.
You can fix this, citizen, starting right now, by refusing to believe the myth of the benevolent billionaire.
You can fix this by remembering that you, not show-business (or Russia), decide who the next President will be. You can register to vote. You can figure out who your representatives are (it's easy, click here to find your rep in The House and click here to find your senators). You can call those representatives (202-224-3121) and tell them how you want them to better represent you. That is your super power as an American.
Why relinquish that power to fake super heroes?
Undoing the damage of Trumpism will take enormous, sustained effort on the part of the American people and the leaders they elect. Entire offices and institutions will need to be rebuilt, reclaimed, and restructured, and the American people will need to figure out a better way to protect democracy.
None of that happens if we fall prey to the same stupid lie we fell for in 2016.
The President will have to be someone who actually knows how government works. It doesn't matter whether or not they're likable, charming, or interesting. We need someone who understands constitutional law, foreign policy, military policy, domestic policy, law enforcement, American history, world history, civil rights, life in America, and how the levers of government operate behind the scenes.
Any celebrity who genuinely wants to serve their country should enlist in the military or run for local government. They should get in line, and play by the exact same rules as us. They should learn, grow, and earn it. They should do the opposite of what Trump did, if they really want to be the opposite of Trump.
And Americans must stop manifesting a reality that will, very simply, kill us all.
We must stop believing someone other than ourselves is going to appear out of the great blue sky and rescue us from certain demise.
We, the people, save ourselves by committing to difficult, boring, un-sexy, un-televised, and often unsatisfying work.
We do this without the benefit of bright lights, pyrotechnics, or wealth.
We do this because we must.
Because it is right.
Because it is true.
Because it is our prerogative, not a celebrity’s.