The Unlikely Politician

A few weeks ago, shortly before the holidays were upon us, I was flipping through TV channels and came across the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It was at that part where Kevin is about to fool the hotel staff and check-in to the Plaza without his parents. And then it happened. The part I had all but forgotten about. Before Kevin McCallister reaches the lobby, he stops to ask someone for directions. And there he was. Donald Trump instructing Kevin to go down the hall and take a left.

This was late 1992. It was a simpler time when Donald Trump was just an eccentric businessman. He was the man synonymous with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and the future host of The Apprentice.

But it got me thinking... Donald Trump is not the first person to go into politics after making a name for himself in the entertainment business. Each generation has seen at least one entertainment figure hit the political scene. So on the day we inaugurate our 45th president, let’s take a look back on some of our country’s other unlikely political figures. Those actors, singers, and reality TV stars who managed the unthinkable and earned themselves a seat in public office.

Baby boomers: Ronald Reagan


Movie buffs will remember this exchange:

Doc Brown: “Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?”
Marty McFly: “Ronald Reagan.”
Doc Brown: “Ronald Reagan? The actor? Who's vice president? Jerry Lewis?”

Maybe one of the most memorable examples of the bunch, Ronald Reagan started his acting career in the 1930s. Once the Baby Boomer birth years wrapped up, he became Governor of California in 1967, and in 1981 he became our 40th (and oldest elected) President of the United States. America officially had its first movie star president!

Reagan became so popular that he won the electoral vote in every state during his bid for reelection in 1984, except in Minnesota (coincidently the home of BridgeWorks headquarters and yours truly).

Gen Xers: Sonny Bono


Baby Boomers remember Sonny Bono rising to fame in the 1960s as half of the musical/comedy duo Sonny and Cher. After the duo’s divorce, Sonny Bono’s career seemed to stall while hers soared—until his unlikely turn as mayor of Palm Springs in 1988, that is. Younger Xers were in their formative years when they watched him take on this position, and he served as mayor until 1992. In 1995 he became a republican congressman representing California’s 44th district until his tragic passing in 1998 in a skiing accident.

Millennials: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born, former body builder and box office action star, announced his candidacy in the 2003 California recall election for Governor of California. Schwarzenegger ran as a republican, which was a bit perplexing given that his then wife, Maria Shriver, is a democrat and the niece of former President John F. Kennedy.

A-nold won the recall and was then re-elected on November 7, 2006 and completed his second term in 2011. But for so many of us, he will forever be da Ter-ma-na-tor.

Gen Edgers: Donald trump

Now, in 2017, America has elected yet another unlikely president. Donald Trump, born in 1946, is actually a Traditionalist-Boomer Cusper. If he'd been born six months sooner, today we'd be inaugurating a Traditionalist president. That being said, each generation has seen Donald Trump in a slightly different light. Baby Boomers remember Donald Trump first and foremost as the real estate mogul, taking over his father’s company and renaming it The Trump Organization. Xers may remember his attempt to create competition for the NFL with his USFL, or might know him more as the owner of multiple beauty pageants. Millennials watched Trump fire contestants on The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice, and finally, Gen Edge has watched him become an unlikely political figure and now the 45th president of the great United States of America.

They say history repeats itself, and one thing's for sure: each generation has had an unexpected political figure step up to the plate to serve our country.