I like Cynthia Nixon's politics. And I like how well she expresses them, and how aggressively. They deserve airing, and she has a big megaphone and seems to have gotten her opponent Andrew Cuomo to move a little left on some issues. And I'm glad that she got beat in the New York Democratic primary for governor. And beat badly, something like 65%-35%.
To be clear, I'm not enamored by everything about Andrew Cuomo, though I don't dislike him at all. And I don't dislike Cynthia Nixon either.
But I'm deeply weary of actor celebrities who want to be involved in politics and decide to start at the very top where they'd be completely in charge, yet without any experience. None, zero, nada. It was a terrible idea when Arnold Schwartenegger did it -- and turned out horribly in reality. It was a terrible idea when Jesse Ventura did it -- and turned out horribly in reality. And God help us, I would have thought we'd have learned our lessen when it was a horrific idea when Trump did -- and it has turned out cataclysmically.
I think if an actor -- or any public figure with a high celebrity profile, like Michael Avenatti, for one example -- want to run for a major office as their very first race, so be it. Senate, House of Representative, whatever. I'm not enamored with the idea, but at least you're not in charge with those jobs. There are a lot of other senators, a lot of other Congressman, so you're just one of many. But when you're governor, you're in charge of the entire state. When you're president, you're The Most Power Person in the World. And as much of a right as you have to run, and as much a right as the public has to vote for you -- I personally think it's still an absolutely horrible, ego-maniacal decision.
(I think pretty much the same about running for mayor as your first job, where you're in charge of a municipality, though in some locales the job is largely ceremonial, and there is a city council that actually runs things. However we don't see many celebrities running for mayor -- there doesn't seem to be as much pomp and glory to the job as governor or president. There are SO many mayors, even within a state, and the mayor of Moose Lake gets to sit at the same table as the mayor of Minneapolis and besides who wants to be in charge of garbage pick-up or snow removal? And you're not Impacting The People, passing laws that have Real Meaning, you're just...well, mayor. Deciding zoning laws and if a fire hydrant can be painted yellow.)
The thing is, even though so many people hate politicians -- and no, this isn't a new phenomenon, they have since the first politician -- politics is still not a job for beginners. (Unless it's an entry-level office, which is basically the point of entry-level offices.) Politicians, hate them or not, are the people who make the decisions and laws that affect your life. And putting that responsibility and power, especially at the very top, in the hands of people who haven't dealt with other legislators and lobbyists and special interest groups and opposition party organizations and never have worked on writing legislation and the art of getting bills passed and never had to know when and how to compromise and when to stand firmly inflexible and haven't been in negotiations over labor pacts and have never had to placate irate constituents from all sides and views, this is a recipe for disaster. You may hate politics with bitter scorn...but IT MATTERS. If people never grasped that concept until right now, this very moment, about the disaster of putting someone in political charge with zero experience, I'm sure pretty much everyone does now.
Okay, no, being governor of a state, or even mayor of a town isn't the same as being president. But that's a matter of degrees. And in some cases, those degrees are small. California has the fifth biggest economy in the world, New York is driving center to America's financial interests. And in all cases...they all are is charge, and can do massive damage if they are clueless.
If you needed open-heart surgery you wouldn't go with someone who off the street, no matter how really great their ideas about medicine. If you were on trial for a felony with prison time at risk, you would hire the absolute best attorney you could and not go into court with a person who's never been to law school, no matter how much you hated lawyers and thought they all were shysters). You wouldn't want someone teaching your child in school who had no training for it. You probably wouldn't even want to buy shoes from a salesperson who had never done it before. But for some reason, there are people who are okay with voting for a someone to be governor or (God help us) president who's never even run for the state assembly, or city councilman, or county assessor before, let alone been elected and has literally zero experience and credentials. But they have Good Ideas. They seem like someone I'd like to have a beer with. I recognize them from TV.
But this here is not about who people vote for -- that's all personal choice, whether I agree or not with the choice -- but rather about the pure, self-centered arrogance of those who have zero experience for piloting a battleship, let alone being third mate, and want you to put them in charge. Of your life. And the lives of millions, maybe even tens of millions, possibly hundreds of millions of others. All without doing the prep work beforehand to learn the job. And earn the position. I'm sure they've convinced themselves that they are well-meaning and have the best interests of everyone at heart. And I'm sure many do have good ideas. But that's why we have study commissions and advisory boards. And generally when someone wants to push everyone else away and leapfrog past all the rest to get to the front of the line, it's more about them. That's annoying when it's just to get into a hot restaurant, it's problematic when once you get in you become chef. And have never boiled water.
And just maybe they'd actually do a good job. It's absolutely possible. You never know. Alas, the historical record on that is pretty dismal. And it's not one of those things I think it's a good idea to gamble on, any more than I'd want to sit in the passenger seat of a tanker-trailer filled with nitroglycerine driven through the icy, winding roads of the Alps by a guy without a learner's permit. Even if he says he knows a really good route. Maybe he'd get there is one piece. Hey, it's possible.
I hope Cynthia Nixon stays in politics, as well as all the high-profile Cynthia Nixons of the world, who hold views that I support. I hope she runs again, albeit for some other office, just as I hope they all run those other offices to show they're fully-serious about the job, working to make other people's lives better, and not only their own. I'm just glad when such totally-inexperienced celebrities don't win positions that would put them in charge. And cringe from too much experience when they are.
Been there, done that.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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