Ben Affleck as a politician? Not yet, not yet…

There were some speculation that Ben Affleck may run for Senate seat to replace John Kerry. Though he denied it the American politics have witnessed actors turned politicians in the past. Would you say that Affleck would be an interesting candidate?

Robert Schmuhl, Professor of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

Ben Affleck is a serious and engaged citizen as well as a well-known actor. He speaks with authority on subjects that interest him, and his celebrity helps to gather an audience for his views and ideas.

In 21st century America, there is a strong connection between statecraft and stagecraft, which is why you see actors and other people in the media involved in political life. Affleck says he won’t run for the Senate at this time, but it’s certainly possible he’ll launch a political career in the future.

Stephen Duncombe, Associate Professor, Department of Media, Culture and Communications, New York University

Ben Affleck, may or may not run for Senate, and he may or may not be a good candidate. All this is unknown. The only thing we know for certain is that he is a pretty good film writer, actor and director. This alone seems to make him a viable political choice. From this one can conclude that either 1) the public is so ignorant and democracy has sunk so low that just being an entertainment celebrity is qualification enough to hold a powerful political office or, conversely,  2) that the public is so intelligent that they understand that democracy today really is just show business and that the person best suited for Senate is someone who is an entertainment professional.

Leo BraudyProfessor in English and American Literature, University of Southern California

I think it is very unlikely that Ben Affleck will decide to be a candidate for Kerry’s Senate seat, and I think he has already declined. In any case, his transformation from an actor–with a few recent flop films–into an actor/director with two or three hits, including Argo, which may be nominated for Best Picture, is still in its early phases. I don’t think he would want to drop that successful redefining of himself for the uncertainties of a political career. Perhaps later, but not now. Most actors who have entered American politics (Reagan, George Murphy, Schwarzenegger) have done so after their careers have peaked and were headed downhill.

Paul SmithProfessor, Cultural Studies, George Mason University

Hollywood celebrities often fare surprisingly well in the political process, perhaps in part because they don’t have to be taught how to play to audience. Ben Affleck would probably make an excellent candidate, especially in Massachusetts where his liberal politics aren’t totally alien. He’s smart, informed and articulate, but also he seems quite passionate about his views. It seems he isn’t going to run this time, but he’d be a strong candidate.

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