LeBron James has recently served as a lightning rod for the ire of President Donald Trump, and it is unusual in that he seems like the kind of guy that Trump would usually want to be around. He’s filthy rich, one of the greatest individual players in NBA history, he’s a champion and now playing for one of the most high profile sports franchises in the world, and he is very attuned to what is happening in politics. That last point is where the pair diverges, as James is not a supporter of Trump or his political ideology. In fact, James has not been subtle in saying he loathes Trump’s policies, whether it be in regard to education, immigration, racial injustice, equality, foreign policy, economics, or most any portion of the Trump platform.
It’s no surprise that James supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and that he made an appearance or two at her rallies. He has a longstanding relationship with former President Barack Obama. According to Heavy, James once said he “means too much to society to not share his political views.” He has been a critic of Trump openly and often which has often made him a target for ridicule by Trump and his proxies, such as Laura Ingraham, who didn’t like James’ opinion of Trump during an interview and cut him off to voice her displeasure.
“This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school early to join the NBA. It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.”
LeBron James blows off Fox News host: “I will definitely not ‘shut up and dribble.’ I mean too much to society.” pic.twitter.com/qF3SqfO0ug— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 17, 2018
James is what the Democrats need right now to position themselves to not just take over control of the House of Representatives at the midterm, but the White House in 2020. James is a rare combination of activist and athlete, a man that puts his money where his mouth is and is more than secure enough in himself and where he is in life to speak out unabashedly and unashamedly to say what he feels is right. He is a man that can get young voters to not only register but get themselves down to the polls to pull the lever. He can get the likes of Beyonce, Jay Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Durant, and Bill Gates to show up at an event. He energizes people and leads by example. He wants to be a “good American,” and show others how to be one too, as cited by Politico.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
Short of impeachment, death, or cutting a deal to avoid prosecution, there is a very real possibility that Trump could be re-elected to serve another term. Based on Trump’s current track record, that isn’t something that anyone should be hoping for. The economy is a mess with trade wars declared on a whim under the guise of national security. Staff turnover in the White House is happening at an unprecedented rate. Many, like James, claim the country is more divided than it has been in almost 50 years. Alliances are slowly disintegrating, and the rich are getting very rich while the poor struggle to survive. It is the perfect storm for change.
James doesn’t have to run for office to make a difference, although FiveThirtyEight has run hypothetical elections in case he did give up basketball to seek office, he just has to be involved, with energy and enthusiasm. As Vox stated, James isn’t just a living sports legend, he is a cultural icon. He is taking a stance unlike any other active athlete, possibly since Muhammad Ali. ESPN called him the “most powerful voice in his profession,” as he is using that tool and his platform to make his stances known and to speak up for those who are not being heard.
Finally, James isn’t new to all of this. He didn’t just start speaking out when Trump took office, he has been speaking out for nearly a decade. First, it was to point out issues related to racial injustice, and later calling on the NBA to take action against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racially insensitive comments, as per ESPN. Regardless of who is doing something wrong, or how powerful they may be, James will not only speak out, he will act as a shield for those standing with him.
Democrats need a life infusion. They need someone that will stand up and be their megaphone. They don’t need more of the same. What that mentality got them was a primary that did more damage than good and fractured their party. They need something, someone, to unify them under one voice, and since no one else outside of the beltway has been willing to step up to the plate and be that, it may be time for King James to be that person. To take an active role and expand on his initiatives of helping improve one small area at a time, to helping the entire country heal. He has the voice, he has the platform, and he has the charisma and credibility to reach across racial, gender, and social divides to be heard. Now he just has to figure out how to do that while making the Lakers great again.