What if I told you that one day celebrities and sports stars could serve in Washington, D.C. as your United States representatives or senators and in your state capitals as governors or lieutenant governors?
Hear me out.
Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood star, served as governor of California and president of the United States. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the “Terminator,” served as governor of California. Jesse Ventura, former professional WWE wrestler, served as governor of Minnesota. Al Franken, former writer for Saturday Night Live, currently represents the state of Minnesota in the United States Senate.
On Comedy Central’s “The Roast of Donald Trump” in 2011, Trump unofficially announced his intention to run for the presidency, a statement that roasters, such as Gilbert Gottfried and Larry King, laughed at. However, here we are in 2017 and Donald J. Trump, mastermind behind the Trump brand and lead star of “The Apprentice,” is indeed the president of the United States.
The strategy that Trump used in his presidential run shows that he was able to capitalize on his notoriety and background in the entertainment business. From key phrases like “Fake News,” “Build a Wall” and “Make America Great Again,” to the building of his political brand through his famous MAGA hats and punchline attacks on opponents such as “Low Energy JEB!” (Jeb Bush) and “Sleepy Carson” (Dr. Ben Carson, current secretary of housing and urban development), Trump ran his campaign like a reality TV show and it paid off.
Politics are as exciting and movie-esque as they’ve ever been before, and Trump’s victory begs the question: will this begin a new age in American politics, where celebrities rise to the challenge of running for office?
If it’s any indication, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg have not ruled out the possibility of a 2020 run, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson “announced” he was going to run for president in 2020 with Tom Hanks as his running mate.
Hypothetically, on a more local level, having someone as famous and well-respected as hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre, of Hattiesburg, run for governor of Mississippi, and hall of fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, of Starkville, run for Lieutenant governor of Mississippi, doesn’t sound impossible.
Brett Favre rose to fame through his time at the University of Southern Mississippi and has held numerous National Football League passing records during his career with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.
Jerry Rice had an impressive college career at Mississippi Valley State, went on to play in numerous Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, and holds almost every National Football League statistical record for wide receivers.
Although the governor and the lieutenant governor don’t run on the same ticket in Mississippi, I’d be willing to bet that a Favre and Rice campaigning duo would excite the constituency of Mississippi as much as it would football fans. The football anecdotes and leadership experiences that Favre, as a quarterback, and Rice, as a wide receiver, would share with Mississippi voters would give Mississippians the motivation to wake up on Election Day and check the box next to their names.
Maybe we can thank President Trump for this, maybe not, but don’t be surprised if in 2020 you wake up to watch a nationally televised Donald Trump vs. Oprah Winfrey presidential debate as Governor Brett Favre is addressing the state of Mississippi from his office in Jackson.
Nestor Delgado is a junior public policy leadership major from Pascagoula.