Democrats ponder running a celebrity candidate in 2020

Following that bit of unpleasantness at the Golden Globes with Meryl Streep, Jeet Heer at the New Republic has struck on new scheme to help improve the Democrats’ prospects in future presidential elections. Pondering the fact that Donald Trump is a “celebrity” who managed to win, a light bulb went off over the author’s head. The Democrats have many more celebrities in their camp. Why not run one of those in 2020?

For further ammunition in support of this argument, Heer summons up a quote from none other than National Review’s David French. In a recent article, he pointed out that while Democrats may be losing elections, they have been winning the culture wars. He noted with some dismay that, the secular Left has taken a sledgehammer to God, family, and country—the pillars of our national culture—and Hollywood has led the way. And since they’ve done such a fine job of that, Heer concludes, perhaps they should put one of their big screen icons on the ticket.

If Hollywood is powerful enough to make people lose faith in God, family, and country, then why should it be a liability in winning elections? The whole business of Hollywood is popularity, which is also the whole business of winning elections. If celebrity endorsements are partly to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss, why did her husband and Barack Obama win the White House with a comparably impressive set of star endorsements? And if these endorsements are so toxic, then wouldn’t celebrity candidates be even more so?

But history shows that celebrity candidates can win, and it’s for the same reason that politicians like Obama and the Clintons tout celebrity endorsements: We live in a media-saturated world where fame has persuasive power.

One thing to note is that Heer bases this argument on the assumption that Donald Trump is “a celebrity.” He was certainly famous in his own right long before he came down that golden escalator, but… a celebrity? The author compares him to other Republican office holders including Reagan, tossing in Schwarzenegger and Fred Thompson for good measure. Two of these examples were clearly celebrities first. The Terminator and Fred Thompson were best known for their movie and television work before seeking office. Reagan is more of a mixed bag since he obviously started out as a beloved movie figure, but spent time as Governor of California prior to seeking the presidency.

Trump, on the other hand, took a very different route. He was well known around the country (if not the world) as a successful businessman long before he showed up on reality TV. In fact, one could well argue that there would have been zero interest in putting him on a television show were it not for his broad name recognition earned through his business successes. To the extent that one could describe Trump as a celebrity, he got there through the back door.

But rather than quibbling over that description all day, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Who does Jeet Heer propose putting on the ticket next time around?

Instead of rejecting Streep, as writers like Jones suggest, Democrats would do well to embrace her and fellow Hollywood stars. The party could recruit Streep and others to bait Trump, and perhaps, as [Michael] Moore suggested, groom some to be presidential candidates. In 2020, the Democrats could run Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyonce, Matt Damon, or Rosie O’Donnell.

Streep will be 71 when the next election rolls around. That’s not a disqualifier (obviously) and her health seems good by all reports, but how well would she stand up under questioning? DiCaprio and Matt Damon would certainly help with the women’s vote I suppose. Beyonce? Her name recognition couldn’t conceivably be much higher. But… Rosie O’Donnell?

Oh, yes please. Speaking on behalf of a grateful nation of conservatives, please, please, please run Rosie O’Donnell. And while you’re at it, fill out the ticket with Roseanne Barr in the veep slot. I can’t think of a better way to spend 2020.