Not so long ago, the best way to become president was to join the army and serve your country with distinction. A bit later, it was to work your way up the ranks of elected official, governor, Senator, and then into the White House. These days, the best route seems to be becoming famous and then using your celebrity to get loads of people to vote for you. Gone are the days of your Dwight D. Einsenhowers, your FDRs, your JFKs. Gone, even, are the days of Ronald Reagan, who started as an actor, before switching late to the whole governor-White House trail. Today, it’s reality shows and showmanship that win you elections, and they may be here to stay.
Which kinda begs the question: if we’re in the age of the celebrity presidency, then what celebrities would be best for the job? Who from the world of entertainment would Americans most like to imagine sat in the Oval Office, working for the little guy? We’ve taken a quick spin through Hollywood to find the very top ten celebrity candidates, be they conservative, liberal, or independent. Eyeing a White House bid in 2020? You better make sure you’ve got star power to match the following.
10. The Rock (Republicans)
As of 2018, Dwayne Johnson (better known as mountain of man-muscle The Rock) is officially registered as Independent. But this is just a post-Trump change. Prior to The Donald’s 2016 takeover of the GOP, The Rock was a registered Republican who had previously appeared at party conventions. While Donnie’s probably got the nomination already sewn up for 2020, it’s not hard to imagine the GOP looking for a big change of direction in 2024. Good news, then, that The Rock has already said he’s toying with the idea of running.
So, what could Mr. Rock bring to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aside from an eyebrow capable of being raised right up into the stratosphere? For one thing, he’s charismatic as heck, with a track record of talking to his fans with all the grace, kindness and sincerity of a consummate politician. For another, he’s got a clear business head on his impossibly broad shoulders. Aside from being one of the highest-paid stars on the planet, he’s got his own production company, with a digital subsidiary, and another subsidiary that handles advertising.
On top of all that, he’s got to where he is through hard friggin’ work. At one point, he had only $7 to his name. Plus, y’know, we’d suddenly have a global coerterie of dictators afraid of stepping out of line in case they got the People’s Elbow.
9. Oprah (Democrats)
The last time the Democrats fielded a female candidate, it ended in the sort of disaster usually only experienced aboard ocean liners named “Titanic.” But Hillary Clinton was a career politician dogged by multiple scandals, tied to a past president, and with all the charisma of a malfunctioning killbot trying to keep its identity secret just long enough to get its steel claws on the nuclear codes. Oprah, by contrast, is a woman with a personality so bright, it’s the closest thing entertainment has to a cult. She’s a billionaire. She’s globally known. She doesn’t take merde from anyone. And she could set alight a party with a strong base among women and minorities.
The idea of Oprah becoming the commander in chief has been around almost as long Oprah herself, but it gained real traction following a barnstorming Golden Globes speech that sounded like a thinly-veiled campaign speech. Since then, Oprah has repeatedly ruled out running for president… in 2020. You’ll notice that leaves plenty of election years that haven’t specifically been ruled out. Even the current president seems to think she wouldn’t be half-bad in the Capitol. In 1999, Donald Trump stated that, if he ever ran for president, he’d like Oprah to be his VP pick.
8. Jon Stewart (left wing independent)
For a whole generation of Americans, the only filter they got all their news and commentary through was the one marked with the name “Jon Stewart.” The former host of The Daily Show became a household name for repeatedly kicking seven shades of stuffing out of the Bush administration, a move he then repeated on the Obama White House. Although clearly left-leaning, he’s never been a party Democrat. After the 2016 election, he savaged the Dems for failing their base. Sure, any election bid would probably involve him running as a Democrat in name, but only in the way that Bernie Sanders planned to. Or as Trump did with the GOP.
Fans of Stewart would point to his incredible political expertise, and clear-sighted ability to see the worst in awful people, no matter what side of the political spectrum they hail from. Try and imagine Stewart giving a grope-happy Senator like Al Franken a free pass, just because they’re on the same team. The reason you can’t is because the dude has genuine integrity, no matter what you think of his politics.
Speaking of Stewart’s politics, let’s take a moment to remember that he’s the guy who helped make the 9/11 first responders health bill a reality. Who couldn’t get behind a background like that?
7. Chris Pratt (Republicans)
Can we just take a moment here to point out that’s it’s been too long since America last had a president capable of giving both genders romantic palpitations? Seriously, you’d have to go back to Rutherford B. Hayes’ fantastic lumbersexual man fuzz to get even the faintest stirring in most groinal departments. This fact alone would be enough to get 90% of living, breathing mammals on side for a Chris Pratt presidency. But there’s also what the galaxy-guarding hunk stands for. He’s one of the few Hollywood mega-celebrities to fully embrace conservatism and Christianity.
For a GOP that’s often characterized as being for “old white men,” Pratt would bring onboard a youthfulness and sex appeal that is currently sorely lacking (whatever you think of Trump, his abs are not his major selling point). While we’d like to think this alone was reason enough, we suppose we’d better talk about politics for this politics article. Sigh! Well, Pratt has form there, too. He’s a hunter who enjoys shooting and eating meat, has previously helped raised funds for wounded servicemen, and has managed to do it all without antagonizing those who have different beliefs to him. In a pro-meat, pro-hunting Instagram post, he even took time to say he had no problem with veggies and respected their beliefs. Understanding and political? You’ll be president of our hearts forever, Chris…
6. George Clooney (Democrats)
The handsome, older version of Chris Pratt’s boyish good looks, George Clooney is probably the candidate Democrats have been waiting decades for. He’s got a high profile, a seriously suave demeanor, a track record in fundraising for the Dems, and Bernie Sanders-style protest pedigree (he’s previously been arrested protesting for causes he believes in). As a bonus, he’s exactly the sort of guy you can imagine riding out any kind of debate with a winning smile and a few perfectly-timed quips. That’s exactly the sort of thing that’s gonna play well in our dawning age of celebrity presidencies.
To add fuel to this fire of supposition and faint hope, Clooney himself has taken to making pronouncements about the state of the Democratic party for the 2020 elections. In 2017, he told The Hill that he was disappointed that no left wing candidate currently “lights up the room” with his or her charisma like Donald Trump can. Although he didn’t actually come out and say it, many took the unspoken end to that sentence to be “like I, George Clooney, also can. So give me the darn nomination already.”
5. Kurt Russell (right wing Independent or Libertarian Party)
Let’s quickly get a celebrity political myth outta the way: Kurt Russell ain’t a Republican. His unwavering support for the Second Amendment has gotten him painted as one of the GOP faithful in many articles from both left and right, but the grizzled actor himself has stated that he is not a member of the Republican party. In his own words, he’s a “hardcore libertarian.” Russell’s political feelings can apparently be summed up as getting the government the heck out of there, but also leaving enough space so everyone can have a grab at the good life, without corporations or the military or anything else stepping on their toes. Hear that? That’s the sound of a million registered Libertarians, already hopefully preparing their 2020 ballots.
Russell has a lot going for him, aside from his status as a beloved cult actor. He’s not a blowhard, and has repeatedly said he prefers civil discourse with people he disagrees with to going off on one at them. He’s also kinda… persuasive. Seriously, you can read or listen to him the rare few times he discusses his beliefs, and he tends to come off as someone you could agree with. That’s a pretty powerful tool for a presidential candidate to have. It’s just a shame he seems to have no desire to run whatsoever.
4. Michelle Obama (Democrats)
The day she left the White House, Michelle Obama’s favorability rating stood at 68 percent. That’s higher than her husband’s (58 percent), higher than Joe Biden’s (61 percent), and way, way higher than Hillary Clinton’s was on her last day in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (56 percent). That fact alone should give any Democratic Party strategists reading this pause for thought. But Michelle has even more up her sleeve than just popularity. She’s a proven public speaker with a track record of supporting causes nearly everyone can get behind.
She’s got some serious experience. During Barack’s tenure, Michelle became a fixture at international summits, building ties with world leaders. She’s done good things for mental health, worked for the disabled, is a lawyer, a feminist… the list goes on. She’d also doubtless benefit from picking back up voters who endorsed her husband but abandoned Hillary in ‘16. In other words, she’d be a practical presidential pick from both a competence and a purely electoral point of view.
If you’re a Democrat reading this, hold your horses before charging off to blow your earnings on Michelle 2020 bumper stickers. The former first lady has stated already she aint’ gonna run.
3. Ivanka Trump (Republicans)
She’s the calming yin to her father’s raging yang. Ivanka Trump is a modern, successful businesswoman who already has a wealth of experience on the world stage. Don’t believe us? Just look at the CV she’s built up since her dad took the White House. She was at the G20, rubbing shoulders with world leaders like Angela Merkel. She’s worked with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost global entrepreneurship. She’s helped the World Bank with projects, has pushed her father towards helping LGBT people, and has helped run his business empire. That’s all in significantly less than two years. Imagine what she could do with 8 in the Oval Office?
Of course, the downside is that recent track records suggest Americans have soured on the idea of dynasties. After punishing Hillary Clinton at the polls in ‘16, it’s hard to imagine the general public warming to the idea of another four years with a Trump in the White House come 2024, no matter what the polls are saying by then (assuming The Donald wins reelection). But then Ivanka’s a pretty remarkable woman, and if anybody could overcome that obstacle, it’s her. And she’s still only 36, so even if 2024 doesn’t work out… Hmm. Ivanka Trump for president in 2028, anyone?
2. Tom Hanks (Democrats)
Depending on your age, having Tom Hanks as president would be like having your favorite younger brother, older brother, or kindly uncle sitting in the White House. It seems plenty of people feel that way. According to a (probably wildly unscientific) poll reported by Britain’s Independent newspaper, Tom Hanks is far and away people’s top choice when it comes to celebrities standing at the top of the Dems’ 2020 ticket. Just imagine: Forrest Gump, sat on Capitol Hill, running the country like one of his shrimping vessels. What’s not to like?
To be fair, Hanks wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. He’s a dyed in the wool liberal, perhaps far too strongly so to attract moderates and independent voters. On the other hand, he’s a great orator, whose barnstorming speech at MOMA following Hillary’s 2016 election loss showed he was a guy who understood history, understood the constitution and, importantly, understood what motivated former Democrats to vote for Trump. That’s the kind of bridge-building, non-divisive personality we haven’t seen take the White House for a couple of generations.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republicans)
Did you know the Terminator wanted to run in the 2016 presidential race? That’s right: if the rules were just slightly different regarding immigration and public office, we could now be living in a world in which Arnie himself was leading the country and dispensing one liners while he was at it. Sadly, his Austrian birth bars him from ever becoming president, even though he’s been an American citizen since 1983. But, well, this is a hypothetical article after all, and there’s nothing to say the rules can’t one day change…
So, what would Arnold bring to table, aside from a stack of muscles so bulging you could hollow just one of them out and create a home big enough for a family of four? Well, he’s one of those modern rarities: a genuine moderate who may be Republican, but shares a lot of positions with the right wing of the Democrat party (he was married to a Kennedy, after all). That would bode well for cross-party cooperation on just about everything, which could be just what Congress needs to break its current, endless gridlock. He also has political experience, having led the state of California for 8 years. It may not legally be possible to get him into office, but we can all dream, can’t we?