The rise of Donald Trump from businessman to TV star to President of the United States has sparked many conversations.

Among the most interesting for me, though, is whether or not his ascension to the highest office in the land might fundamentally change the way our country elects Presidents.

I've long wondered if some celebrity of a certain level of national recognition could parlay that popularity into an opportunity to live in the White House. For instance, I remember when Oprah Winfrey was leaving her daytime talk show and we wondered what the future might hold for the media mogul, I thought it wasn't so crazy that she could make a run at the Presidency.

Oprah is almost universally liked, has more money than most and has an undeniably great brand. All of those things are key components to winning a Presidential election.

Now, it seems, Oprah might be thinking the same thing.

Though her "Hmmm" when considering whether or not she has what it takes to become President isn't exactly a declaration of her intention to run in 2020, it isn't slamming the door on the subject, either.

This fascinates me, not because I necessarily think she would be a good President, but because I've been wondering if we're about to embark on a run of "celebrity" Presidents.

In a way, Trump is a test case for this. Without question, his long-established brand was one of many factors that propelled him to the White House. You could argue that Ronald Reagan was also an example, though he at least had experience as Governor of the most populous state in the union (California) before heading to Washington D.C.

Also, Americans aren't necessarily opposed to electing popular people to important offices without a ton of — or any — prior political experience. Film icon Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor of California, retired wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura was Governor of Minnesota, former NBA star Bill Bradley served three terms as a Senator from New Jersey and legendary football coach Tom Osborne was elected to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Nebraska, just to name a few.

And then, of course, there's Trump, who never had a vote cast for or against him for public office until this past November.

When pitching this idea to a friend, he wondered why anybody, especially a celebrity who is already living the life of luxury, would put themselves through this. There's one very simple answer: Ego.

When you've accomplished so much in your life, built a brand from the ground up and a media empire, I'd wager you could convince yourself you could do just about anything, including becoming the leader of the free world.

To take all this a step further, what if this is just the beginning, and our future is filled with Presidents named Clooney or Jordan or Kanye. It sounds preposterous, but is it? Isn't it at least possible that our worship of celebrity culture could spill over in a major way into Washington D.C.? Maybe, just maybe, the Presidency morphs into this figurehead status where we elect a face of the country, who then hires people to do the heavy lifting behind the scenes. In a way, is that so far away from how we do things now?

So, Oprah for President? To quote her: "Hmmm."

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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