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Dwayne Johnson 1.jpg

Please, The Rock, Don't Run For President

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Politics | May 12, 2017 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Politics | May 12, 2017 |

Everybody loves The Rock. Few of us could have imagined that Dwayne Johnson’s post-WWE film career would have grown to the megastar heights it’s reached. Who would have thought that the guy who made his big-screen debut as an abysmally fake looking CGI scorpion-man in The Mummy Returns would become the highest paid man in Hollywood with multiple box office smashes, a surprisingly popular HBO series, and a beloved Disney movie to his name?

It seems like he can do anything and the people will be on his side. Now, it seems that politics may be the next big step. In an interview with Caity Weaver at GQ, Johnson admitted, in regards to a possible career shift, “I think that it’s a real possibility”. While he has not declared a party allegiance, insisting he is registered as an independent, he condemned Trump’s immigration policy and said any campaign he ran would be focused on co-operation and inclusion. It all sounds very positive, and the kind of optimism Johnson is so good at conveying in his films and public image. Last year, when Johnson previously confessed political ambitions, Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post wrote a very convincing op-ed in favour of him doing so. In our age of a reality TV show judge as President and an administration seemingly in the midst of an unravelling dystopian novel, a pro-wrestler turned actor running for the highest office in the land seems like a turn in the right direction. I don’t blame people for getting excited, nor do I dismiss those putting forward other celebrities for the 2020 run.

I just hope it never happens.

Interesting piece from The Washington Post on if I ran for POTUS I could actually win. Writer Alyssa Rosenberg did some pretty good research into my background (slave descendants fighting for their freedom, Revolutionary War etc). Much more to uncover but well done. 👍🏾 More and more pieces like this are popping up due to the Presidential election and they're cool/fun to read… I care DEEPLY about our county… and the idea of one day becoming President to create real positive impact and global change is very alluring. Buuuuut until that possible day, the most important thing right now is strong honest leadership from our current and future leaders of this country. Thanks again Washington Post. 🇺🇸 💪🏾

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I am familiar with the arguments in favour of Johnson running: He’s immensely likeable and popular across political lines; he’s charismatic and gives a great speech; his background is the ultimate American Dream parable and he’s already emptied his closet of the skeletons that once upon a time would have ended a political career before it had even started; he’s even got the appealing rhetoric of unity and co-operation that we sorely need during these times. In the abstract, it seems like a fun idea, maybe even a good one. It’s also one that painfully ignores the disheartening reality of politics and how quickly that untouchable sheen of universal adoration surrounding Johnson would tarnish under public scrutiny.

Stick with me here, but what this situation reminds me of is Joe Biden. When Biden’s 2016 run still seemed like a possibility, many were excited for it, and the admittedly hilarious Biden memes came out in force. The same kind of unfiltered love permeated social media when the Obama administration came to its end, with adorable photos of the pair captioned with increasingly silly conversations. We’ve seen the gifs, we’ve laughed at the benign gaffes, we’ve even cried at some of his more achingly personal interviews. Like The Rock, Biden was our meme, our kooky charmer and the cathartic release during tough times. He was also a flawed politician who plagiarized speeches, presided over the brutal Anita Hill hearings while doing little to stop the attacks the women faced, wrote the infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and stumbled into more gaffes than I can keep track of. Biden also has a wonderful legacy in many other areas, like his work on the Violence Against Women Act. All of these things can exist simultaneously, but we forget all the bad stuff because he didn’t run for President and so it never came up again (something Hillary Clinton never got the privilege of).

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The Rock’s never been quiet about his tough past, but that candor would only cover for so much. Every slip of the tongue he’s made in public or private would be revealed, and every mistake or indiscretion would be dissected nightly by a panel of “experts” regardless of their veracity. The racism Johnson would face would be shocking but not surprising, and that doesn’t even take into account any policies he may or may not have. We don’t know what he stands for, not really, beyond warm but vague platitudes of inclusivity. We only know what we want him to stand for. The Rock is easy to love because he makes himself so inviting, but how does that hold up when faced with questions on national security, energy policy, the Middle East, abortion, Russia, and anti-transgender bathroom bills?

Obviously, as a Brit, my opinions on this matter are hardly definitive, so pinch of salt and all that. Still, I cannot help but yearn for the days when we wanted our public servants to be intelligent, hard-working and kind of dull. As the electorate rejected experience and proven political prowess in favour of uninformed bombast masquerading as “anti-establishment”, it seemed as though many on the left leaned harder into fighting fire with fire. The voters want a celebrity? Why not Oprah? Or Mark Zuckerberg? Or even Disney CEO Bog Iger, who’s not a household name but carries a similar kind of “experienced businessman outside of the DC bubble” vibe Trump used so effectively (although Iger’s someone who’s actually good at his job).

Politicians and those working in the political sphere are now considered so untrustworthy by the electorate that it’s apparently a good thing to stump for someone with no experience in that field. Apparently knowing how to actually be a politician is bad because we want politicians who aren’t politicians (I’m waiting eagerly for the day someone just straight-up asks Trump how a bill becomes law). There’s an undeniable necessity to having public servants from different backgrounds, but picking from the crop of privileged millionaires doesn’t scream “anti-establishment”.

Of course, we’re in a new age, where sexual harassment doesn’t kill your Presidential chances and the seemingly impossible is merely a few steps away. Perhaps President Johnson is inevitable, and maybe he’ll be the great new hope for the resistance. Weaver ends her GQ piece with the line, “And if he can convince a few million more people of that, everyone’s best friend is going to be president.” It’s a pleasant dream, but I prefer The Rock as our friend at the movies, where we can embrace his carefully cultivated image of positivity free from the realities of politics.