Why celebs stay out of politics
by DAVID RYNERSON Aug 5, 2017 Washington, D.C.
Clinging to the coattails of Trump’s Presidential win, dozens of celebrities seem to think now is their time in politics; and the media is eating it up.
Only hours after the 2016 race concluded, media groups went crazy with celebrity fever. Throwing a slew of would be “challengers” at the president-elect. The Hill, NBC, Business Insider, Forbes and more published articles like CNBC’s “8 billionaires, CEOs and celebs Trump has inspired to run for President”. The rhetoric was hardly unusual, yet recently, celebrities seem more serious.
#Kanye2020 trending on Twitter. The Rock files an official campaign. Professional pollsters predict a Trump v. Mark Cuban 2020 race. “All things are possible now” stated CNN senior writer Lisa Respers France, and to a point, that could be true.
To contain the excitement of a “President Kanye,” here are five reasons why celebrities should not, and likely will not, run for office.
1. Lack of preparation
Politics is a rough, intimidating blood sport where hit songs, slick rhymes and ripped biceps mean little to nothing and where good looks and charm can fail without strong, careful planning.
Although Trump’s win seemed to defy the odds, people forget he has been eyeing the White House since the late 1980s, running as a Reform Party candidate in 2000 and launching a presidential exploratory committee in 2013. Trump then quietly assembled his campaign team, long before announcing his 2016 intentions.
2. Career on hold
Going from superstar to world leader is no small task. Celebrities serious about running need to lay the groundwork. This means giving up potentially lucrative movie deals, tours, plays, commercials and albums. A high price for top-tier talent.
One of the biggest hints for Trump’s 2016 bid, came when he failed to renew his 2015 contract for “The Apprentice.” Arnold Schwarzenegger similarly dropped his future projects to focus on his campaign for California governor, having only a brief cameo in 2010’s “The Expendables.”
3. Not so glamorous
Hollywood’s bourgie lifestyle would need to go. Politicians are defined by their frugality, and unlike the rich, represent the taxpayer. Think Gov. Scott Walker’s $1 sweater, not Kanye’s $180,000 watch. Ignoring this can be disastrous — and even criminal — as former Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock learned too late.
As a rising star, Schock embodied the ideal American. He was young, fit, successful and good looking, but he could not stop spending. When the taxpayer began to foot the bill, the system threw him out. Politicians can take few extravagant gifts, must decline most free services and are discouraged from showing off wealth.
Schock did not listen: Star studded events. Lavish outings. Magazine photo shoots. Schock carved celebrity status and he got it. But when his district wanted an explanation, Schock replied: “haters are gonna hate.” A month later, he was gone.
4. Taking a pay cut
When comparing politicians to California’s high rollers, the president makes peanuts: only $400,000 a year. While Kevin Spacey — portraying the president on Netflix’s “House of Cards”- brings in $5-$10 million a year. Julia Louis-Dreyfus — as Vice President Selina Meyer, in HBO’s “Veep”- makes $150,000 per episode. Even Obama impersonator and WWE superstar, The Rock, made $64 million dollars this year through various projects and investments — 160 times the president’s earnings.
5. Campaigning is monotonous, hard work
Even the smallest mistakes can be exploited and used against candidates in the dreaded “October Surprise,” when an opposing party unleashes their month-long smear campaign to damage a candidate’s reputation beyond repair.
When the stakes are high, “hired guns” come into play. Masters of information gathering, full-time partisan operatives — trackers — record candidate’s every move. Following them throughout the campaign like shadows. Waiting to fit the smallest slip up into a 30 second TV ad — think TMZ on steroids. This paranoia, coupled with the other stresses of campaign life, is more than enough to keep undetermined candidates from running.
In the end, politics is a lifestyle, not a hobby. Yet, if celebrities are willing to make sacrifices and educate themselves on the process, they stand a chance. Hollywood is full of motivated people, but it may be too comfortable for California’s top talent to leave.