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Who could be president? US celebrity candidates for 2024

Who could be president? US celebrity candidates for 2024

Voting is set to begin in Iowa tonight.

The Iowa caucuses, which are the opening contest in the months-long Republican presidential primary process, will show whether former celebrity and president Donald Trump can secure the party nomination once again.

But what celebrity alternatives are there – and which A-listers could be better, stronger, wiser options for the US presidential elections?

After all, the 2024 election is scheduled for 5 November. Still enough time for one of them to throw their hat in the ring.

Euronews Culture votes for...

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT MCCONAUGHEY

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT MCCONAUGHEY
VOTE FOR PRESIDENT MCCONAUGHEY - AP Photo/Susan Walsh - Canva

Endorsed by: David Mouriquand

Actors getting into politics and running for office is nothing new, and the notion that they don’t have the chops is rather outdated at this point. The US know this.

Granted, Ronald Reagan, a former actor with the acting range of a plimsol, was a disaster. He may have forged relationships with then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which set the stage for a resolution of the Cold War, but his economic legacy led to a record growth in the national debt, as well as federal and trade budget deficits. As for President The Apprentice, he was an even bigger, more ludicrous and despotic disaster, a stain on the country’s history that can only be partially redeemed if it is finally revealed that Donald Trump never existed in the first place, and that he is a performance art project from Sacha Baron Cohen that was taken several method steps too far.

So, third time lucky?

Redemption is nigh, and should come in the shape of Matthew McConaughey.

The Hollywood star underwent what was referred to as the McConaissance in 2011 by transitioning from romcom heartthrob (The Wedding Planner; the indisputable masterpiece How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) and People magazine’s 2005 Sexiest Man Alive, to credible dramatic performer (Killer Joe; Mud; Interstellar), TV detective extraordinaire (True Detective) and Oscar winner (Dallas Buyers Club). The second McConaissance will be even more impressive.

The 54-year-old has been open about a future political career, having considered running for governor of Texas and telling attendees at San Francisco’s Dreamforce conference last year that it may be “inevitable” that he runs for president sometime in the future.

"Yeah I'll consider it in the future, I'd be arrogant not to, absolutely I would consider it," McConaughey said. "If I got into any form of politics I'd be remiss not to also go in as an artist and a storyteller; help put a narrative together. You're the CEO of a state and a nation, a lot of compartmentalization and choices to be made. They scare me but I'm not afraid of 'em."

That’s a more coherent statement than anything Trump managed to embarrassingly blurt out during his term in office. Then again, a hyperactive toddler with suspected learning difficulties could come up with a more coherent statement compared to the US’ 45th president, so granted, the bar is low.

Regardless of plummeted standards, there is proof that McConaughey could actually have what it takes for the top job. One piece of evidence came in 2022, when he visited Washington D.C. to talk with lawmakers about gun legislation, following the Robb Elementary School shooting that cost the lives of 19 children in his hometown of Uvalde. A video of him making an impassioned plea for gun safety measures went viral on social media, and saw him manage what no American politician has achieved in decades: a bipartisan appeal to the American people that acknowledged that arguments on both sides of the political spectrum where valid. “Both of your arguments are much closer to the solution than each of them independently." Bright lad. He went one step further regarding the polarization in American politics. Circling back to his Dreamforce intervention, he said: "The divide is not as thick as we're being sold; most of us are much more near the middle than we're being told."

He even rhymes.

The question remains: Who would he run for? His Texas heritage could suggest a Republican leaning; his involvement alongside President Biden after the Uvalde shooting could indicate that he’s a Democrat; his arrest while high, naked and playing the bongos in 1999 confirms he’s an absolute legend.

Regardless of the way he votes, McConaughey could be the real thing, and exactly what the US needs: some measured yet passionate oomph. On the national stage, he could achieve bipartisan support, and push some rather sensible policies that could bring his country out of the dark ages. On an international stage, and even whilst wearing a shirt, he could make everyone drool themselves into a sexy coma at every gathering, thereby preventing them from behaving like morons – even if for a little while.

President McConaughey? You try telling us it would be alright, alright, alright.

VOTE FOR (VICE & FUTURE) PRESIDENT SWIFT

VOTE FOR (VICE) PRESIDENT SWIFT
VOTE FOR (VICE) PRESIDENT SWIFT - Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP - Canva

Endorsed by: Tokunbo Salako

... Ready For It?

President McConaughey needs a running mate. And who better to join him on the ticket than Taylor Swift?

Quite aside from being one of the world’s biggest superstars and a business savvy artist whose album re-recording venture has made her a pioneer when it comes to reclaiming power in the music industry, when Taylor speaks, her fans listen. And that goes for politics.

Case and point: In September last year, the singer posted a short message on Instagram encouraging her 272 million followers to register to vote. Afterward, the website she directed her fans to — the nonpartisan nonprofit Vote.org — reported a 1,226% jump in participation in the hour after the post. The number of 18-year-olds registered was more than double 2022.

And it’s not just the US – this year, Brussels has asked Swift to mobilise young voters ahead of the elections to the European Parliament.

You want to encourage voter enthusiasm? Vote Taylor for VP.

And when President McConaughey leaves a Blank Space, who’ll be there to fill it? Future President T-Swizzle, that’s who.

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT THE ROCK

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT THE ROCK
VOTE FOR PRESIDENT THE ROCK - Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP

Endorsed by: Jonny Walfisz

The first question is obvious. What would we call him if he reached the top office? Would it be the insultingly dull President Johnson? The egregiously indulgent President ‘The Rock’ Johnson? The curiously formal President Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson?

Or my personal favourite, the absolutely unhinged President The Rock. It’s not what the world needs. But it’s probably what it deserves.

Presidential precedent of (shoddy) actors achieving office aside, Johnson has been directly asked by multiple political parties if he’d run.

Following a 2021 poll of 30,000 Americans that revealed 46% of them would vote for Johnson in a presidential race, the ex-wrestler revealed that “at the end of the year in 2022, I got a visit from the parties asking me if I was going to run, and if I could run.”

Johnson said on Trevor Noah’s ‘What Now?’ podcast that although it was a compliment, his “goal has never been to be in politics. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot about politics that I hate.” It’s quite the politician’s answer, given over the years he’s suggested he would consider a presidential campaign and even had his sitcom ‘Young Rock’ framed around a newly elected President Johnson looking back on his salad days.

Why would President the Rock be an interesting choice?

Firstly, there’s his impressive stint in the WWE (then WWF). The titan of his era, he delivered smackdowns with the stage presence of a man who knew he could command arenas.

Think about that skillset in the primary debates. In 2016, Trump changed the political sphere with his combative debate style. Hilary Clinton – a lifelong politician seasoned in policy and rhetorical speaking – was no match for the orange buffoon shouting “lock her up!” to his frothing masses.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would never fall foul of Trump’s contempt-laden tactics. Imagine soon-to-be President-elect the Rock whipping out a quick nonsensical “If you smell what the Rock is cooking” before smacking Trump upside the head with the folding chair Jeb Bush was about to sit on. Iconic.

After leaving the WWE in the early 2000s, he established himself as a Hollywood star. He hit big with the Fast and Furious franchise as Luke Hobbs. Since Fast Five, Johnson has become one of the world’s highest-grossing and highest-paid actors.

US voters seem to love a wealthy politician, so Johnson’s box office figures should keep them happy. They also love a populist. Instead of thoughtful economic and social policy pushed by morally consistent individuals, a successful politician in the DCEU (the Washington DC Extended Universe) just has to parrot whatever might sway voters on any given day.

Famously, Johnson has an ego the size of his biceps and is contractually required by the Fast & Furious franchise to never lose a fight. When he produced and starred in actual DCEU film Black Adam, which was a lugubrious drone of EPIC explosions lacking depth, due to Johnson’s ego refusing to let his character gain any on-screen depth.

Johnson’s inability to act with a diverse range of emotions beyond “look at the cool dude” has started to slowly wound his solid box office reputation. Black Adam bombed and Fast X didn’t hit the high notes of previous entries. In a way, this makes him the antipopulist. Sure, he’s only interested in how he comes across. But his methodology is to the detriment of how he actually does come across. We need that kind of contradiction in our DCEU politics. Long live President Rock.

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT WINFREY

VOTE FOR PRESIDENT WINFREY
VOTE FOR PRESIDENT WINFREY - Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP - Canva

Endorsed by: Theo Farrant

Attention, voters: With all due respect to my fellow campaigners, forget everything you’ve read thus far.

Please do not be fooled by McConaughey’s Texan charm, seduced by The Rock’s Herculean-sized biceps or allured by whatever mysterious enchantment Taylor Swift seems to cast on her legion of fans.

Instead cast your ballot for the only celebrity candidate who truly deserves your vote - none other than the incomparable cultural icon and media mogul, Oprah Winfrey.

Rising from poverty in rural Mississippi and overcoming years of abuse and personal trauma, her journey to becoming one of the world's most successful and influential figures in history, as well as the first Black American female billionaire, makes her a true inspiration - and a self-made one at that. No "small loan of a million dollars" or Kardashian-style nepotism round here - just good old-fashioned talent and hard work.

A media Queen, actress, talk show host, author, television producer, philanthropist and deliverer of iconic interview lines like '"Were you silent, or were you silenced?" - she’s the personification of a woman who can do it all. And she's no stranger to politics either.

Throughout her career she's used her immense influence and platform to advocate for education, women's rights and social justice. Collaborating with Nelson Mandela, she established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) in South Africa in 2007, where a remarkable 90% of graduates have attended top universities such as Oxford, Stanford, and Spelman. And who could forget in December 1993, when President Bill Clinton signed "Oprah’s Bill," a campaign initiated by Oprah for a national database of convicted child abusers to aid other victims. She has a history of creating meaningful change.

Oprah's perfect fit for the presidency also lies in her ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, making her a unifying force in a nation marred by polarisation. Whether it be Democrats, Republicans, people of different races, ethnicities, and sexualities - Oprah is universally loved. She has the power to bring people together and inspire a nation towards a brighter future.

And let's not overlook the overdue question: Isn't it about time the USA had a female president?

Get Oprah into the Oval Office!

VOTE FOR... NONE OF THE ABOVE

VOTE FOR... NONE OF THE ABOVE
VOTE FOR... NONE OF THE ABOVE - Canva

Endorsed by: Anca Ulea

The idea of a celebrity at the helm of the greatest economic and cultural power in the world is tempting, sure. It’s a logical step on our nihilistic journey into the crushing abyss of nothingness, another pitstop where we can grab some artificially-flavoured empty calories to shove down our throats as we sink deeper into despair.

But as the resident American here at Euronews Culture, may I please intervene and suggest that perhaps we should stop acting like a likeable famous person can solve all our problems?

I’m not saying you should stop stanning Taylor Swift, or admiring Oprah’s formidable interviewing skills. Hell, you can even play the bongos butt naked while smoking a joint in homage to Matthew McConaughey.

The main reason any celebrity would make a terrible US President is that they’ve generally only ever had to think about themselves. The concept of celebrity itself is extremely individualistic – these are people who become known for who they are, not necessarily what they do. The work is secondary.

If there’s one thing I am absolutely certain of, it’s that the work is primordial when it comes to being President of the United States. And there’s a lot of it to be done.

On top of the domestic issues that need to be dealt with – like the ongoing opioid crisis and ever-rising inequality – there are also crucial international issues at stake.

Climate change is breathing down all of our necks, and it will take a coordinated international effort unlike anything the world has ever seen to put out the countless (sometimes literal) fires that are erupting across the planet.

What we need is a candidate who has dedicated their career to thinking of others, someone who knows hardship and struggle, someone who can put their ego aside and think of the greater good. And, honestly, someone who can point to Gaza on a map.

I highly doubt we’ll find such a candidate on the cover of People magazine, or even in the crowded field of candidates who have already come forward. I’m not even sure there’s a person on Earth who is up to the task.