ALEX CRAWFORD, PUSHING FORWARD
“They screaming Chano for Mayor.” These are lyrics from the song “Somewhere in Paradise” by Chance the Rapper. Over the past 2 years, there has been a serious push for Chancellor Bennett, AKA Chance the Rapper, to run for mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Chance, 24 has said he would seriously consider a career in politics in the future. Lately, it seems like celebrities are making a loud entry into national politics—and some could be good politicians, but certainly not all of them (Just like not every “Joe the Plumber” would make a good politician). In addition to the celebrities who might be fine politicians, there are some politicians out there who aren’t very good public servants. Like any person however, transitioning into political life requires a certain type of person who possess certain characteristics.
Every day, you might see a tweet or Facebook post by a celebrity calling for political action or praising/condemning politicians and their actions. Some celebrities, however, could make the transition into politics, and would be embraced, and even be qualified. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Azadeh Aalai wrote that “politics undercut every section of our lives” whether people realize it not, and that “artists—such as [Meryl Streep]—have a moral imperative to use their voices (and their craft) to speak out against injustices that are occurring”. So, on some level, it would make sense that some celebrities feel the need to run for political office. Many celebrities are widely followed by Americans, but Hollywood has also been vilified by some on the right as the “elite” who don’t understand the common American experience which could make the transition difficult and seem disingenuous.
But, to be frank, celebrities have always been intertwined with politics for years, whether they be actors, musicians, authors, or athletes. The sweetheart of the modern conservative movement, for example, was a Hollywood actor and President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States from 1981-1989 and was was always involved in activism, and he held public office for years before turning his 3rd attempt at the presidency into a success. President Trump has some qualifications to be a politician, such as a charismatic personality, business know-how, and negotiation skills, even though he has very little political experience. No one can forget that he was the host of a syndicated reality television show, The Apprentice. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger served on a council for George H.W. Bush and was involved in philanthropy and activism for 20 years before running for Governor of California. The list goes on with other celebrities turned politicians. Just like any other job, one should have the experience, knowledge, skill set, personal characteristics and overall qualifications to hold public office. But not all people have those qualities (I’m looking at you, Kid Rock).
Chance The Rapper is the kind of celebrity we should be interested in. Lately, he has become quite the philanthropist, especially when it comes to his work in his hometown of Chicago. He has met with the Governor of Illinois to talk about the public school system, personally donated one million dollars to the public schools, and given away nearly 30,000 backpacks at the Bud Billikens Parade in Chicago where he was also the Grand Marshall. Barack Obama is even a personal friend of his and the pair has met to discuss politics. Chance is keenly aware of the problems of Chicago and wants to sit down and work with others to solve them. He led a campaign to help curb gun violence in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend which lasted 42 hours with no gun deaths. Chicago public school students sent Chance the Rapper an open letter thanking him for all he’s done for Chicago. He won the Chicago Outstanding Youth Award in 2014 because of his work for the youth of the city of Chicago. Chance is the type of celebrity who can make the transition into politics, and make an even bigger impact in his community, and is the kind of person we should want any politician to be. If celebrities are going to make a transition into politics, they should take notes from Chance.
Most celebrities are charismatic, funny people who do charity work but probably wouldn’t make good politicians. It’s certainly a different world for everyday people and celebrities, and people might not take them seriously although a few some celebrities could do great work as politicians. If celebrities are going to start running for political office, they should least start at a more local level to get some experience first (stop running for President straight from television), and continue their contributions to society through their efforts. After all, politics affect everyone, even celebrities.