The Donald Trump campaign has many Americans shaking their heads in disbelief — surely there are better candidates from among the most famous Americans, and surely some Americans must be famously partly because of their achievements in leadership, advocacy, or diplomacy. To that end, here are 11 celebrities who should run for President.
These 11 famous people are overall liberal, but the pool from which they were drawn was not. I started with a large list of candidates drawn from show business, the military, major award winners, and more, including prominent conservative activists like Ted Nugent and libertarians like Penn Jillette. The overall pool received up to 2 points for their education, 1 for military background, up to 2 for record of activism, 1 for any political offices held, fellowships or awards they’d won (but not the Academy Awards, Grammys, or the like), and up to 2 for their overall qualities of leadership and diplomacy both domestically and on the world stage.
The final list includes actors, writers, a U.S. Senator, a scientist, and an astronaut. They range from atheist to Catholic to Hindu, with backgrounds in activism and raising awareness for issues around the world. Two of the actors have already played the U.S. President . . . Consider that a dry run for the real deal. None is among the 11 most Googled female celebrities in the world, which will disappoint the many people who believe Beyoncé represents our best hope as a nation. (Beyoncé will technically be eligible for the 2016 election, as she turns 35 in September of 2016.)
One factor that ruled out many of the best potential candidates was that they must be natural-born U.S. citizens. Obvious favorites like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are not eligible, even though the Governator has been a U.S. citizen since 1983. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, was born in Prague and became a U.S. citizen in 1957 — she was not eligible to serve as President even as part of the constitutional line of succession. Freakonomics writer and radio host Stephen J. Dubner asked her about it in a recent episode.
“I do think that naturalized citizens should be eligible,” Secretary Albright told Dubner, “but after living in the country for a long, long time. I think that you cannot be the citizen of a country that you’ve just kind of arrived in, and I do think that it requires understanding the country.” She turned down an invitation from Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel to campaign for the Czech presidency “because I hadn’t lived there, I didn’t understand it.”
For now, foreign-born U.S. citizens will have to wait.