Politics requires more than a likable face

In defense of the career politician:It seems to be the hip thing to do the past year, hate the career politician. Admittedly, it is easy to be swept away with this notion, as career politicians have tended to rub the American public the wrong way over the past couple of years. Headlines blazed with flames about scandal, sexual misconduct and the like are unavoidable.
So the prevailing solution seems to be to go digging in the hole of Hollywood for a more apt politician. This makes perfect sense; pluck our new “noncareer politician” from a land lined with sex and misconduct.
And after Election Day, the career politician is replaced by somebody like Jesse Ventura. It sounds like a good idea. He’s honest, he’s great, he’s not this career politician that everybody has come to hate. The only problem is he’s one step up from the career politician — he’s a career self-publicist. He’s had to shout and trumpet the glories of his own manhood to get a paycheck every other week for a good portion of his life.
This problem arises in all these newfound politicians: Alec Baldwin, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and even Cybil Shepard. Over the years, their egos have been so inflated and their heads have grown so big that, hey, why not just run for president?
Alec’s got a hot wife, Donald’s got some big buildings, Oprah’s got a mediocre talk show and Cybil, well … she used to screen-kiss Bruce Willis — all bulletproof rÇsumÇs for running the country. The entertainment industry’s hold on the American public is undeniable, but should it really go this far?
The last time we elected a movie star, we got Reaganomics. Ouch.
By steering away from the career politician, the intentions are good. The voter hopes to separate themselves from a world laden with policies, self-interest groups and self-serving people who have no real interest.
So instead of getting a politician with ties to special interests, the voter gets an entertainer whose only job ever has been to sell themselves. When Ventura became governor, the people of Minnesota hoped to rid themselves of the career politician who wastes time on petty partisan politics. Now Minnesota has a governor who spends more times in front of the bright lights of television sets than underneath the dome of the Capitol building.
He’s busy pushing his book and his persona on talk shows and national tours while his desk lies empty. And while his honesty might be funny in a barroom or at a picnic, it is completely tasteless and embarrassing for who was elected to represent an entire state of people.
When electing these celebrities, the public is choosing a familiar, likable face. But it just doesn’t work. When the toilet is broken and the first repairman doesn’t fix it, you don’t grab the mailman and tell him to fix it. You call a different plumber. If you don’t like the politician, elect a different one, not some entertainer you see on TV.
When you elect a celebrity, all you get is a self-serving, egotistical entertainer who knows as much about politics as they remember what it was like to be the common person.
And I ain’t got time for that.
Andrew Donohue’s column appears on alternate Tuesdays. He welcomes comments at [email protected]