Is America ready for another celebrity politician?
For years, “The Rock” has publicly declared his desire to be president. His TV show, Young Rock, seems to solidify his intentions. Does celebrity status qualify individuals for high political office or make them ideal candidates to solve the myriad problems facing America?
Born May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California, Dwayne Johnson is half Black Canadian and half Samoan. His at-times rough childhood with famous wrestler Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson as a father and a mother (Ata Maivia) from a renowned family of Samoan wrestlers is documented in his TV show. While not 100% historically accurate, Young Rock skips back and forth throughout Johnson’s early life and employs a multitude of actors to depict the actor and tell his story at various ages. In Season Two, Young Rock reflects back on how “The Rock” became President of the United States in 2032.
Dwayne Johnson would not be the first celebrity to transition from stardom to politician. Actor Ronald Reagan went from President of the Screen Actors Guild to Governor of California and then to President. Bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California, and fellow wrestler Jesse Ventura served as Governor of Minnesota. Then there is Donald Trump – the self-promoting millionaire who hosted a popular reality show on his path to the presidency. Does Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have the right stuff to succeed as the leader of the free world, or is “The Rock’s” arrogance and conceit propelling him to seek the highest prize in the land?
There is already a website dedicated to the presidential election of Johnson: www.dwayneforpresident.com. According to coordinator Arthur Pearlstein, “This website was neither solicited nor authorized by Dwayne Johnson.” Pearlstein even has a game plan. “Dwayne could quickly name a running mate with strong experience in government, a reputation for selfless service, and a record of success. While Dwayne acts as CEO, Ronald Reagan style, providing vision, values, guiding principles, and strong leadership, his Vice President could act as a Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the more day-to-day administration of government. A perfect team.”
Electing Dwayne Johnson to be a figurehead or frontman for the nation while the Vice President actually runs the government is a truly frightening proposition. Despite all of his talent and charisma, Johnson is absolutely unqualified to serve as president. He lacks political and direct management experience. He has no background in foreign relations, nor does he have a deep understanding of history. He does not even vote regularly. According to the Greg Evans article in Deadline, Johnson voted for Obama, skipped the 2016 election, but publicly endorsed Biden and Harris in 2020. He has never even indicated which party’s platform aligns with his views.
The making of the man
Moving past some rough teen years that included shoplifting and thievery (Vanity Fair), Johnson graduated from the University of Miami in 1995 with a Bachelor of General Studies Degree in Criminology and Physiology. An athlete, Johnson played defensive tackle for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Struggling with depression, the first semester of his Freshman year his GPA was a dismal 0.7. He eventually graduated with a 2.9 GPA. His goal to play professional football was short lived. He got a position with the Calgary Stampeders when no American team would sign him after he suffered a back injury in college. Johnson soon turned to the family business—wrestling. In 1996, Johnson signed a contract with the WWF (now the WWE). Thanks to his massive physique, handsome face, and charismatic personality, “The Rock” became a megastar of the boxing world before turning his sights to Hollywood (Encyclopedia of World Biography).
The making of a super star
Johnson’s movie career began in 2001 as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns. His Star-quality was noticeable and marketable. The following year (2002), he returned for the starring role in The Scorpion King. Two decades later, Johnson is among the most successful movie stars in the world, having earned over $430 million (Vanity Fair).
All in the family
Lauren Hashian, Johnson’s current wife and the mother of his two youngest daughters, is the daughter of Sib Hashian, the original drummer of the rock band Boston. However, Dany Garcia, his first wife and the mother of his oldest daughter, is the key to his success. Married from 1997 to 2008, Garcia provided sound career guidance, and she continues to be his business partner. Simone, Johnson’s daughter with Garcia began professional wrestling under the name Ava Raine in July 2022 (Newsweek).
Running toward the prize
Jeremy Garcia wrote in a May 2021 New York Times Magazine article that Johnson was setting his sights on the 2032 presidential election, which is also the year he ran for office in his show Young Rock. Garcia notes that on the show, Johnson is not a democrat or republican, but rather “a third-way politician who just wants America to push past its divisions.”
Johnson’s political ambitions go back many years. In a 2016 interview in GQ Magazine, a 2017 appearance on The Ellen Show, and a 2018 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Johnson publicly confirmed his flirtation with the idea of a presidential run. Newsweek sites a 2021 poll by Piplsay wherein 46% of those surveyed would support “The Rock” as president. In a People Magazine interview, Johnson claims not to have “political passions” or “the patience or resignation to deal with the B.S. that comes with politics and politicians.” Johnson told USA Today that he would ultimately leave the decision “up to the people.” Yet, he clearly seems to be moving in the direction of a presidential run.
Dwayne Johnson’s popularity and engaging personality will take him far if he chooses to run. The man has 330 million followers on Instagram. Aside from his very public feud with Vin Diesel (allegedly over differing philosophies), other co-stars such as Ryan Reynolds and Emily Blunt speak highly of him. He has been called humble and vulnerable. Oprah Winfrey feels a strong connection to him; she told Chris Heath in an October 2021 Vanity Fair article, “I see this kind of hunger that he has for life and bettering himself.”
Is he the right man for the job?
In an Instagram post, cited by Newsweek, Johnson admits that he knows nothing about politics, but declared, “I care deeply about our country. I care about every fucking American who bleeds red and that’s all of them… I may have some leadership qualities but that doesn’t necessarily make me a great presidential candidate.” He articulated his beliefs, “Core values matter. Work hard, take care of your family, be kind to people, take pride in your name, take pride in your own two hands, be inclusive and respect EVERYONE and don’t be full of shit.”
Whatever policy goals he has, Johnson has kept them to himself. What are his opinions on environmental issues, immigration, global trade, human rights, anything? The American public has absolutely no idea what direction Johnson wants to take the nation. He could easily be a patsy for elements determined to install their own devious agenda – Steve Bannon style. Nothing good would come of it.
In an April 5, 2018, article for Deadline Greg Evens writes, “Johnson concedes that he has had ‘under the radar’ meetings with various politicos of all persuasions, ‘just soaking in and listening.’ But he says, ‘I feel like the best thing I can do now is, give me years.” A prominent political player told Johnson that when he is ready to take his shot at the Oval Office, he needs to send out the Tweet: “Freedom Patriot.”
Johnson is clearly taking his time – putting his ducks in a row – talking to the right people – building his Instagram following. In the meantime, Americans can sit back, relax, and await the Tweet, “Freedom Patriot.”