by Christian Duque
Ever since Arnold won in California and Jesse “The Body” Ventura won in Minnesota, the idea of athletes successfully running for major, elected office, became conceivable. That’s because we’ve seen a change of the guard. Whereas politicians used to have to be old, grey, and (hopefully) wise, things began to change after the Reagan/Bush era. When Bill Clinton won the presidency, that changed presidential candidacies forever.
Clinton didn’t serve in the military, he may or may not have inhaled pot, and he had a voracious appetite for fast food (and other things..). Before Clinton, senior statesmen had one foot in the grave, they weren’t outspoken, and if anything, they were exceptionally reserved. You’d never hear an elected official position themselves behind an issue, no matter how passionately they stood for it, by making a ton of noise. That went against all the D.C. sensibilities. Truth is, there was no reason to stammer around. The press was also very different back then.
When Americans watched the news, there was a certain decorum that all stations abided by. Some might call it a game today, but that’s the way the world worked, then. With the successful candidacy of Donald J. Trump, that further pushed the discussion started by Schwarznegger and Ventura.
It’s one thing to win local races, perhaps get a seat in the state legislature, maybe even win the governorship; however, to successfully run and win a four year term as the commander in chief of the most powerful nation in the world – that’s totally something. But wait a minute, President Trump wasn’t a bodybuilder and he wasn’t a tv wrestler, but guess what, he also wasn’t a politician. The fact an outsider could successfully defeat a primary consisting of over a dozen career politicians, further promotes the idea, that everything has changed. The America we used to know, stopped around 1991/92. Now, voters don’t reward politicians’ poker faces, tight-lipped responses, or vague stances on issues near and dear to their hearts. Voters know they wield incredible power. Whether you agree with Trump or not, he pushed the card. Now, it’s not only conceivable that a bodybuilder or wrestler would run for President, it’s actually on the political landscape. The fact that there’s polls and articles – on the mainstream media – discussing a possible Dwayne Johnson candidacy, says a lot.
According to a survey which appeared on Newsweek, “at least 46% of Americans would support a presidential run by Dwane “The Rock” Johnson in a new poll.”
Now, it’s worth pointing out that I don’t know who conducted the poll and how many people it reached, i don’t know it’s margin of error, & I’m not privy to any of its statistical information; however, it stands to reason that the veracity of the data is not in question, otherwise it would never have made its way onto such a respected platform.
The poll does raise some doubts, namely when it comes to political positions. Now, I must admit, I’m not too familiar with The Rock’s politics – and if I’m not familiar – I can’t imagine the average American is either.
For 46% of any polled audience to support a candidate, they would either be supporting a man whose ideas are widely known or they’d be supportive of the man, simply for his stardom. That’s why a poll like this might seem impressive at first glance, but it may not be a true reflection of the voters’ will.
Voters tend to say a lot of things, write all sorts of posts online, only to end up voting for the more pragmatic choice come election day. The question is, out of that 46% which claim they’d support a Rock candidacy, how many would actually vote for him? And would they vote for him at the primaries level and/or again, in a November election?
The high percentage is certainly a cause for celebration, it may be the driving force behind an exploratory committee, and it could potentially help boost the first few rounds of campaign fundraising, but in the long run, this is a minor victory that can only be milked for so long. Then again, maybe The Rock won’t milk it, at all. In fact his response reads like someone who’s all but ruled out running, but that will do it, if asked by the American people. This is almost ripped out from the Trump playbook, but will it work a second time, in just eight years from 2016? I mean when you look at all the men who have served as POTUS, Trump truly stands out when it comes to his whole demeanor and approach. Trump was so outspoken, he got banned from all social media, yet still kept going. Love him or hate him, the guy didn’t play the game, and it seems that’s The Rock’s whole template.
In his response Tweet, The Rock wrote, “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club – but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve you, the people.”
That’s a fantastic response. I’m not sure if Johnson has reached the level of political sophistication where he can write responses like this without a whole army of aides, but maybe he’s the exception. Most elected officials have writers and whatever they write, goes through a series of edits and revisions that are carefully studied for maximum effect on the targeted audience. Johnson paints himself as a guy who’s too tall, who’s bald, and tattooed. How many Americans does that include? It’s a wide net that still draws great results.
Bald people identify with other bald people – the hell with people with great hair!! Tall people identify with other tall people, especially over the evil ankle biters!! Tattooed people are tired of having to roll down their sleeves, put concealers on, and silence their expression. What if the Commander in Chief was doing a press conference while Kat Von D was inking him up. How would that be for a cultural f*ck you to all the squares who judge people based on their skin art?!?!
Johnson is also very proud of his heritage. It’s important that people know where he’s from – after all, America is a melting pot and we celebrate diversity!! And what better way to have a good time, than drinking responsibly? The Rock is a Tequila man – and he made sure to include it!!
The best Tequila is from Mexico and it happens to be widely consumed by Latinos. Tequila drinkers will be impressed that he didn’t try to push the Bourbon card or talk Scotch Whiskey, as so many others in our nation’s capital would. He’s a Tequila drinker and that makes him unique. But wait! There’s more!
He also drives a pick-up truck and he’s not opposed to wearing a fanny pack!! Why, I bet, if he had hair, maybe he’d grow a mullet — even better, maybe there’s a photo of him from the 80’s with that very hairstyle!! Rednecks from all over, would identify with him, as well. I mean, if he likes pick-up trucks, he might also like to go muddin and drink dirty thirties – I mean, it certainly is possible, right?
The Rock makes a point to draw a bright line between the preppy bureaucrats and himself. This is Populism 101. He speaks nothing of issues in his response, he doesn’t criticize either party; he just seeks to connect with as many people as possible, in a non-threatening, I’m your buddy kinda way. Again, straight out of the Trump playbook.
The bigger question is, how badly does The Rock want this? Will this be a real run or a stunt (e.g. Kanye West, Vote None Of The Above). The idea that the American people are going to all get together and march to his house, like Joe Clark’s students did in Lean On Me, asking him to bless us with his candidacy – is patently absurd. If Johnson believes that, then he might not be a good fit for The White House, but more appropriately, the nut house.
The truth is, We The People don’t generally ask politicians to run, but it’s a cute gimmick. If Johnson wants to run, he’s going to need a lot of money, just to be in the conversation. Can he debate? Have we ever seen him present a position, then defend that position, and be able to do it over the course of 1-2 dozen topics, including the economy, the environment, foreigh policy, national defense and social spending? Listen, if elected officials can do it, I have all the faith in the world in a guy who’s new to the process, but the question is, will he put the time in to at least hold his own? That’s the ultimate question. He would have to dive in, 110%. And while Trump played the part of a rebel, he had to really step it up, almost immediately. It won’t be any easier for Johnson. In fact, if The Rock runs in 2024, he’ll either face Trump in the GOP or a sitting President in the DNC. He could also run third party or start his own, but both of those options, are pretty much guaranteed to fail.
That being said, I can definitely see people from our industry throwing their hat in the political ring. Marc Lobliner comes to mind. Although he’s largely an independent, he would be able to find a home with a major political party, particularly to run for public office in Tennessee. I think his stances have also evolved over time, but remain consistent as well. It’s important to stick to your proverbial guns – especially when surrounded by hypocritical career bureaucrats. Lobliner can also dig into his years of experience making and releasing videos on a wide array of fitness topics. Whether Marc is talking about whey protein, BCAA’s, or resistance training, the public speaking is what really speaks to me. The fact he can make statements and back them up with evidence over the course of a video that’s 10, 20, or 30 minutes long, without a bunch of second takes and editing, speaks to skills that will serve him well in any debate. Another guy, who has similar experience to draw from, would be Jerry Ward. Whereas Lobliner may consider running at some point, I’d be shocked if Ward gave it a second thought. Nonetheless, I think both Lobliner and Ward would have an undeniable edge over Johnson, if we’re taking fitness people, looking to follow Arnold or Ventura’s lead.
Schwarzenegger & Ventura proved you don’t have to be a politician and you can be a former athlete, but you have to really be on your debate game, if you’re going to win public office. There’s no reason Dwayne Johnson couldn’t do the same, but once again, as has been the lingering question throughout this whole article, how badly does Johnson want it? There’s no question he can do it, but does he want it?
Also, to those who think there’s plenty of time, you couldn’t be more wrong. While it is only 2021 and the elections aren’t until 2024, most serious candidates are already deep into fundraising, hobnobbing with donors, and doing press. Posting a text reply on Twitter, doesn’t really count. Is there even a domain name registered for his run? Are there plans to hire a staff, maybe create a PAC, or is this just a little noise as a result of a poll that caught a Hollywood celebrity by total surprise?
Whatever the case may be, it’s got people talking. I, for one, think it’s just talk. I’d be very impressed if we saw a Dwayne Johnson exploratory committee and, at least, the initial steps towards cementing a run.
Where do you think The Rock stands on the issues? How do you think he’d do in a debate against former President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, or an unnamed future rising star in the GOP? In 2000, Johnson identified as Republican, but he also endorsed Biden/Harris in 2020. How do you go from Ridin With Bidin to trying to take his job?
There’s certainly lots more to this.