Didn't it used to be the case that only Republican actors would make a go at public office? You know, guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Fred Thompson, Fred Grandy, Sonny Bono and of course Ronald Reagan? Well it would seem that times are changing.
Recently former SNL performer Al Franken was elected to the U.S. Senate from the State of Minnesota. And apparently actor Val Kilmer is considering running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. Both performers -- now politicians or at least perspective politicians -- are Democrats!
Usedcarsalesman can certainly recall past years when it seemed that actors didn't expect to be taken seriously by voters if they ran as a Democrats.
Of course this might have had a little something to do with Republican Ronald Reagan's successful bid for President in 1980. As in: "Hey, look at Reagan... If anybody is going to take a Hollywood actor seriously when he runs for public office, that actor had better run as a squarish, Republican kind of guy."
With that in mind, what has so recently thrown open Capitol and executive mansion doors for Democratic actor/politicians?
Perhaps Barack Obama's candidacy and victory had something to do with it (Hey Obama is such a change of pace that Democratic actors seem positively ordinary and conventional and almost like 50's era IBM salesmen by comparison)
Or perhaps their Republican actor counter-parts demonstrated for decades that though they were electable, they were hardly infallible -- a fact giving Democratic actors ammo to shoot down attacks on their own Hollywood, politically-inexperienced backgrounds.
Who knows, but Usedcarsalesman says that he sees Democratic actors stepping up to run as a positive thing.
For one, he thinks guys like Franken and Kilmer will provide a valuable voice mostly missing in American politics until now: The voice of somebody who has actually at some point in their lives received assistance from the government (or who has at least known people who have).
For example, Al Franken will probably tell you that when he was in NYC in the 70s and early 80s and not working, he probably did have to take public assistance to make ends meet occasionally.
And over the years, Val Kilmer has probably personally known tons of people who have had to take welfare or unemployment benefits, who've been in rehab, who've had alcohol problems or who've been on a 2 year waiting list for government programs of some sort.
Franken and Kilmer would presumably not shy away from expounding on their direct or indirect experiences with government social services. And that might produce improved social services for all Americans in need of such services.
Anyway, Usedcarsalesman is all for seeing more Democratic actors make a run for state or national office.
Sure they'll find out its not especially glamorous work, that a politician's pay at best approaches the SAG day rate, that the money you are accorded to run your office(s) is subject to criticism and public scrutiny and that the "audition process" -- in this case seeking election and re-election-- isn't a relatively private activity in front of just a few casting people.
And they'll find that they are surrounded by a lot of fairly stodgy types -- primarily lawyers -- who may not think much of their background in entertainment.
Nevertheless, Democratic actors appear to be giving the political game a go and Usedcarsalesman salutes them for it.