True to the character of a society enamored by instant gratification, Americans are already looking forward to fielding the 2020 ticket against President Donald Trump.
Republican Party challengers in the state primaries and contenders from the Democratic Party in the general election are already vying for the presidency. While many current elected officials have expressed interest, some potential candidates have been mass nominated because they are household names. Most of the members of the latter category are billionaires or multi-millionaires.
A brief list of individuals considered or declared for 2020 include Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Some of the candidates were merely the target of public approval and never entertained the thought, like Oprah. However, some prominent figures, such as former NFL player Lawrence Jackson has gone so far as to announce his intention to run and even file with the FEC.
The decision for wealthy people with no experience in politics to run is not the core issue, it is the public’s selection and enthusiasm for embracing someone’s rise to power based on their wealth and status.
Wealthy individuals may have a leg up on the opposition to run for elected office because they can afford it and have name recognition. But it does not mean they know how to govern or prefer civil service over their current professions, which are usually less stressful and more lucrative. Instead of championing the first name that pops into our heads for the highest office in the land, we should support individuals who are passionate about the issues and want to improve the lives of Americans. The existence of the ultra-wealthy is a direct result of sustaining systems of inequality which perpetuate the social differences in a class-based society. No billionaire is going to help dismantle the system that gave them their wealth.
If American voters were as enthusiastic about their state and local elections as they are for the fantasy of another celebrity president, the system would better reflect the population’s desires. In most states, midterm voter participation averages about 40 percent of the adult population, with local elections attracting even lower turnouts. Voters should engage in these elections just as fervently because elections are often operated and represented by the very people in one’s community and can impact everyday life across the board.
For 2020 specifically, the idea of clamoring to a celebrity candidate is exceptionally illogical considering it is mostly in opposition to President Trump, who has already shown what it is like to have a billionaire with no prior experience in office. Even electing someone with immense funds who does have political experience is not conducive to a healthy republic. There is no such thing as an honest, wealthy politician. For an elected official to amass millions in personal assets, it requires him or her to take money from interest groups and/or use their position to nab paid speaking engagements and book deals.
The essence of democracy is founded in equality and liberty. The wealthy should not get a fastpass to be elected to key positions in government just because they have money and renown. They will pass and enforce legislation that benefits the ruling class, while American workers continue to suffer. We should not put our faith in hollow, gilded talking heads. Instead, we should consider the best interests of all and the preservation of our ideals for generations to come.
– Zach Ienatsch is a journalism senior