Donald J. Trump’s successful presidential run has one again proved the power of celebrity in politics. His effort in changing the political landscape has been so successful that it might inspire other celebrities to throw their hats into the ring.
Who will these people be and will they succeed. Unfortunately America has no shortage of B list celebrities seeking attention; or a payday, and a long history of fame leading to political success.
The nation’s first president was its most famous citizen: George Washington. Since then a wide variety of famous people including generals, explorers, war heroes, writers, labor agitators, country singers, football coaches, aviators, astronauts, businessmen, newspaper publishers, wrestlers, professional lecturers, trial lawyers, movie stars and comedians have sought office.
Trump is simply the latest in a long line of people who sought to leverage fame into political power. He will not be the last, and his career might mark the beginning of a new age of fame and politics.
Who will be the Next Trump?
Since we live at a time when social media and 24-hour TV news give any celebrity a bully pulpit, we can expect a deluge of such pests. Some of them are already before our eyes.
A few candidates to be the next disruptive celebrity political leader include:
- Jenny McCarthy – The Playboy centerfold turned TV personality; and Sirius XM star, has achieved a national following with her one-woman crusade against vaccines. Like Trump she’s outspoken, and has a knack for attracting support from people who would normally find her offensive. She has also achieved folk hero status in some circles; and has the added advantage of appeal to soccer moms.
- Mark Cuban – The tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner has been building political street cred lately with almost mindless attacks on Trump. He’s outspoken; widely admired, and a reality TV star thanks to Shark Tank. Cuban is also opinionated and he is talking about running. Like Trump, Cuban is something of a marketing genius who has the resources to launch a campaign. He might position himself as the Democratic Trump for 2020.
- Ivanka Trump – The Donald’s daughter has been using her father’s campaign to advance her own career. Unlike her father, Ivanka is actually nice, polite and comes off as highly intelligent. She is quietly positioning herself as a kinder, gentler, feminist alternative or heir to her dad.
- Tim Tebow – This egomaniac destroyed his football career with his self-righteous arrogance; but he still has a cult-like following in some circles. After his baseball career tanks, politics is a natural outlet for this character. A strong possibility is that desperate evangelicals will turn to Tebow as the savior of the religious right.
- Colin Kaepernick – Like Tebow, Kaepernick is slowly destroying his football career with his arrogance, but he’s developing a cult-like following. Once the NFL gets sick of his act, politics are likely the next outlet for this character. He’s already achieved national prominence and fame for a political stand. Kaepernick would be a logical standard bearer for the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Beyonce’ – Queen Bey has been getting real arrogant and dabbling in politics lately. She’s been making statements on everything from feminism to police shootings in her songs and videos; and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Her status might lead to a political career, particularly if the albums stop selling. Political ambitions might explain Beyonce’s willingness to appear at weird venues like the Country Music Awards.
- Peter Thiel – If anybody takes Donald J. Trump’s place as leader of the populist right it’s likely to be this character. A member of the PayPal mafia; along with Elon Musk, Thiel has been deliberately attracting attention and controversy lately. He’s spent money on behalf of Trump, and been speaking out a lot lately. If Trump’s presidency turns out to be a dismal failure, don’t be at all surprised that many of his followers turn to this openly gay Silicon Valley moneyman as their new savior. Thiel himself seems to be openly auditioning for the job of Trump’s heir apparent.
- Elon Musk – The Tesla, Solar City and SpaceX founder has been all over the news lately. Musk offers a widely variety of patent answer solutions for the world’s problems and he has a cult-like following. Musk cannot run for President because he was born in South Africa, but he’s espousing a clear political agenda. Particularly with his plans to colonize Mars and scrap fossil fuels. It is not hard to imagine Muskism becoming a political movement complete with a charismatic leader.
- Michael Moore – Now that this clown’s career as a documentary maker and a professional celebrity is largely over politics is a natural outlet. Moore has always been active in politics. Now Bernie Sanders’ success proves that there is a market for his brand of socialism. Like Mark Cuban he might be trying to position himself as the Democratic Trump.
- Scott Adams – The Dilbert creator has been blogging and promoting his philosophy through books for years. Lately he’s been talking about politics and shown himself to be an outspoken Trump supporter. Adams is a pretty shrewd marketer who has built up a minor media empire. He might be a dark horse Trump replacement or heir, particularly if the implosion of newspapers deprives him of his soapbox in the funny pages.
These are my choices for the new Trump but there are many other contenders out there; including Rob “the Meathead” Reiner, “Wild Bill” Ackman, Chris Rock, Nick Hanauer, Tom Brady, Steven Colbert, Alec Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson, Ted Nugent, Kanye West, Chelsea Clinton, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Glenn Beck and Oprah to name a few. Unfortunately only the voters will determine if any of these people would be credible political contenders.