The U.S. has seen its fair share of politicians who say they can do it all. Campaigning on promises for real change, usually focused on a plethora of fiscal and social issues, many Americans place their hopes for a better and brighter future in the hands of candidates. History has long regarded public service as an undeniably noble profession, with good reason. Due to this, anyone, no matter their prior level of visibility to the public, who feels called to serve the American people in the form of politics should have the chance to do so.
Oftentimes, many take a surefire stance on this divisive issue. For some, hearing a well-known figure from outside of politics or a person with some brand of celebrity making a decision to run for office scares them. For others, knowing that someone who does not belong to the establishment and may take unpopular stances excites them. While both sides make very valid points, when one wishes to run for office the only things they truly need include good intentions, an understanding of the political process and firm beliefs, along with an intent to remain attentive and properly represent the wishes of their constituents.
Across the nation, individuals have access to endless options for public positions. Whether on the local, state or federal level, Americans have the opportunity to represent their constituents and enact change. The ability for one to insert themselves into political matters, develop their own opinions and have open and honest conversations with those around them regarding said issues and the best course of action for the country serve as a part of what makes democracy so fascinating. Everyone and anyone can engage in this, no matter their background or level of experience.
Individuals who have a certain level of visibility or are regarded as a celebrity by society come with an advantage. Those dialogues on tough political issues become magnified, as they already have existing platforms. Through merging politics and popular culture, Americans become more interested in issues that they may not have previously given any thought to before. When a celebrity runs for office, they not only exercise their constitutional right, but they encourage others to join them and do the very same.
The notion that a candidate has simply embarked on a political journey just to receive more fame and following can drive many away from supporting a “celebrity” candidate. This worry, a completely understandable one, cannot be denied in some circumstances. However, no individual, or celebrity for that matter, is the same. As independent thinkers, one must have the courage to listen to those who wish to become active members of politics and understand what viewpoints and beliefs have led them to their opinions on certain issues — only then can one judge their authenticity and decide whether or not to support this candidate in their pursuit of public office.
One of the most famed and respected political figures in history was an actor turned politician. President Ronald Reagan became one of the architects of modern conservatism. After graduating from Eureka College, Reagan initially worked as a radio announcer. A few years later, Reagan made his way to the Golden State, signing a contract with Warner Brothers. Starring in several films, he eventually hosted General Electric Theatre and later became the President of the Screen Actors Guild.
Impassioned by issues such as anti-nuclear warfare and preventing the spread of communism, Reagan chose to run in 1965 for the governorship of California and won in 1966, serving as governor until 1975. Afterwards, Reagan decided to run for the presidency of the U.S. in 1976, losing the nomination to Gerald Ford. Determined to assume the office of the president, Reagan ran for president in 1980 against President Jimmy Carter, and went on to win and serve two terms in office.
Known for his “Reaganomics” and dedication to foreign policy, Reagan left a lasting legacy which has shaped conservatism and modern day politics as a whole. Driven by a sense of wanting to serve, both in the armed forces and public office, Reagan chose to make the leap from acting to politics, knowing that he would likely be met with some skepticism. However, he had honest intentions and his purpose became evident to voters across the U.S., whether they approved his politics or not.
Many others have joined President Reagan such as Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, Ambassador Shirley Temple, Senator Fred Thompson and Mayor Clint Eastwood, just to name a few. Influential names in both the arts and politics, celebrities-turned-politicians have inspired generations of leaders and encouraged others to get involved in politics.
No matter where one lies on the political spectrum, each and every American should be encouraged to serve their people in any way they can, especially if that means in public office.