Point / Counterpoint: Should a celebrity govern California?

Opinion Co-Editors Natalie DiCesaris and Melissa Perez debate whether or not celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner belong in California politics.

After nearly a year of collecting signatures, Governor Gavin Newsom’s opponents, unhappy with his performance as state leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, collected 1,626,042 valid signatures, triggering a recall election. Shortly after the recall election was announced, members of the Republican Party began announcing their candidacy for governor. Among those politicians was Olympian and member of the Kardashian clan, Caityln Jenner, which ignited question discourse about celebrities with no experience in politics running for public office. 

Opinion Co-Editors Natalie DiCesaris and Melissa Perez debate this issue.


Point

by Natalie DiCesaris

As California divides between recalling or supporting Governor Gavin Newsom, California might just need (another) celebrity to save it.

While some might oppose celebrities’ involvement in politics because they use their fame to “cheat” their way to winning a government position (like Ronald Reagan in 1967 and Arnold Schwarzenneger in 2003), it should not matter who is governor if their policies will help Californians. 

Recently, Caitlyn Jenner, former Olympian and member of the Kardashian clan, is vying to replace Newsom, who is being recalled after his lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I knew nothing about Caitlyn Jenner besides what I’ve seen of her on the Kardashian’s popular reality TV show, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and I initially agreed with those who had doubts about a candidate with limited political experience. But after an interview Jenner had with Sean Hannity on Fox News, I changed my mind.

Many of Jenner’s policies are similar to my own.  Jenner is pro-law enforcement, pro-border protection, and pro ICE, and she also believes California needs to “spend some money to have a fair and equitable immigration system in this state” all of which I support. With this, Jenner has proved that she could be the middle ground for many issues between Republicans and Democrats. She explains, “I don’t care if you Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, I want solutions, solutions to bring this state back and to give the power of this state back to the people and not to special interests.”

Jenner isn’t the first celebrity to run for governor of California. In 1966, Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan ran and won the election. During his two terms he portrayed himself as a California citizen ready for, and able to enact, change. During his terms he advocated for tax cuts and, similar to Jenner, Reagan worked with Democrats to successfully cut property taxes in California. 

Another celebrity that followed Jenner’s priorities was Donald Trump. Trump ran on the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” because he saw that America needed change. Being an already successful businessman/celebrity, Trump didn’t need to run for president; his sole reason was to help make America better, just as Jenner is motivated to help Californians.

Being a celebrity should not disqualify someone trying to make our state better. If someone sees a way to fix or help our country, why should we stop them? 


Counterpoint

by Melissa Perez

Celebrities may know how to charm an audience with their entertaining lives, but they do not know how to run a country. In past years the United States has seen a trend of celebrities running for political office, such as Kanye West, Cynthia Nixon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former president Donald Trump. 

These celebrities may have the typical characteristics of a politician: charismatic, outgoing, and well-liked by the general public. But there is a distinct difference between the style of representation within these two positions. Celebrities represent themselves and the projects they work on, while politicians represent our entire cities, counties, states, and countries.  

Having strong political beliefs does not mean someone has what it takes to be a politician. For example, Donald Trump was a famous celebrity with strong, but wavering, political views. Originally registered as a Republican, over the years Trump shifted over to the Reform party and the Democratic party before once again returning to the Republican party in 2009. Although his beliefs may have been diverse, that didn’t make him a great politician. His celebrity status had major effects on the country. Trump’s supporters (or rather, his fanclub) were so devoted that they attacked the United States Capitol after his loss in the 2020 election.  

More recently Caityln Jenner, one of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities, announced she was running for Governor of California. Caitlyn Jenner has no previous political experience, which would be disastrous for California. We need someone who knows how to run an entire state, not just a TV show. Caitlyn hasn’t even been politically active over the last few years. In fact, Jenner has only voted 10 times out of the 26 elections since 2000.

California has already fallen victim to a celebrity governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected into office from 2003 to 2011, and in the first seven years that he held office, California’s debt tripled. If this celebrity had any past political experience, he wouldn’t have destroyed the economy. 

Maybe it’s the idea of being more famous, or the title behind the position, but regardless of a celebrity’s true intention, celebrities don’t belong in politics.