Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast has a timely article, asking: “Do Democrats Already Have Their Own Trump That Could Win in 2024?” In this case, “their own Donald Trump” may be media star and billionaire Oprah Winfrey.
Lewis observes that we live in an “age of celebrity” that mixes entertainment and politics, and certain entertainers can “make terrific communicators and effective leaders.” He offers up his piece with a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” urgency because many on the left — including some in the left-leaning media, Democratic Party members, and their liberal financial backers — apparently don’t want Joe Biden to run for president in 2024 and also believe Vice President Kamala Harris may not be up to the job.
What is a party in trouble to do? To whom can it turn?
This is really a case of political elites asking other elites how they can maintain their power base and massive income streams at the expense of those they are charged with leading.
So, a more important question is this: What are working-class and poor Americans, far removed from the elite bubbles of power, to do as the typical politician-bureaucrat ruling class offers up lockdowns, closed schools, forced “green energy” solutions, onerous business regulations, open borders, runaway inflation, record crime rates, disrupted supply chains, billions of dollars in foreign giveaways, and trillions of dollars in deficit spending?
As this bleak reality settles in, more and more Americans — and people around the world, for that matter — are growing weary, even fearful, of “typical politicians.” But, to oust one of these national leaders, one needs to possess that highly elusive “It” factor. It’s something that Donald Trump had when he ran for president, and now other outsiders believe “if Trump can do it, I certainly can.”
Except, they can’t. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, former Disney CEO Bob Iger, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — none of these men could come close to having Trump’s “It” factor. That factor, combined with the potential to self-fund a campaign, can be a game-changer in today’s hybrid celebrity-politician world.
Last year, actor Dwayne Johnson hinted at a potential run for president, saying, “I would consider a presidential run in the future if that’s what the people wanted.” To the names of Oprah and Johnson, I would add two more who may possess the “It” factor, with potentially far-reaching platforms.
The first is actor Tom Cruise, whose recent performance in “Top Gun: Maverick” has inspired some to comment upon leaving the movie theater, “Maybe Cruise should run for president.”
While many on the left either would not understand it, or would reject it outright, to millions of other Americans the movie speaks to the “American exceptionalism” they feel is at risk of being erased by woke politics.
Ironically, the incredible success of “Top Gun: Maverick” is triggering some on the left to launch preemptive strikes against anyone who wants to wrap the film in the American flag. Said The Guardian, “No, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’s’ success isn’t down to being pro-America and anti-woke.” Ah, okay.
Leaving that aside, Cruise arguably is the No. 1 movie star at the moment. But with “Top Gun: Maverick,” he may have opened many more eyes to his principles, potential leadership skills, and potential in the political sphere.
As an example, I would direct anyone to view his 2005 interview with former NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer, regarding “mind-altering” drugs being used on children and adults. It is a powerful, commanding performance by Cruise, perhaps ahead of its time.
The other person with “It” factor is actor/writer/comedian/podcaster Russell Brand, whose popularity could make him a potential candidate for prime minister across the pond, where about 14 million votes can secure a victory.
I have watched a number of Brand’s YouTube monologues — with millions of subscribers — and, while again, some on the left find his views “controversial,” many others believe him to be a voice for the voiceless in the United Kingdom. Brand’s presentations speaking out against the political class and special interests come across as commonsense, pragmatic solutions to the socially engineered problems that are devastating the working class.
Whether it’s Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Dwayne Johnson, or Oprah Winfrey, clearly, more and more voters in the United States, the United Kingdom, and perhaps elsewhere, are open to electing independent thinkers who can’t be controlled by special interest money. These are non-politicians who have the rare “It” factor that impresses masses.
Such a recalibration of who potentially qualifies as a “world leader” may be exactly what a world that is descending deeper into turmoil needs at this moment.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. His latest book is “The 56: Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All to Sign the Declaration of Independence.”
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