Monday, May 27, 2024
HomenewsMeghan Markle's political ambitions

Meghan Markle’s political ambitions

Meghan Markle did not replace Dianne Feinstein in the Senate despite media speculation—raising questions about whether she will play a role in the 2024 elections.

The Duchess of Sussex came out in force in 2020 during the early months of her post-royal life to urge Americans to vote in terms that appeared to reflect thinly veiled opposition to Donald Trump.

Since then, the very idea of Meghan as a politician has electrified public debate with speculation ranging from a presidential run to a spot in the Senate.

Meghan has never publicly declared an intention to run for elected office but did lobby on behalf of Paid Leave for All, suggesting she has at the very least had an eye on a political role in the background.

Options for 2024 could therefore lie anywhere from a repeat of her 2020 outspoken campaign to increase voting among women, to behind-the-scenes lobbying for Biden, to a bid to permanently hold Dianne Feinstein’s former Senate seat.

All options, however, could spark major problems, and opinion is divided over how Meghan would fair with the American people.

How Politics Might Effect Meghan

Eric Schiffer, chair of Reputation Management Consultants, told Newsweek the first question would be whether Meghan would be willing to alienate Republicans.

“She’ll need to decide what her objectives are for her future,” he said. “Is she interested in building her brand to the largest audience potential and being inclusive or is she interested in alienating 50 percent of Americans by taking a position that will change people’s perspective about her?

“If you decide to support a presidential candidate and you’re a celebrity figure, you risk alienating a portion of your base that is strongly committed emotionally to the other side.

“There is a Trump base that is more committed than ever before and if Meghan gets behind it she will ensure pariah status among those who see her being an advocate for Biden.”

There may, however, be reason for Meghan to throw caution to the wind since she is already far less popular with Republicans.

Harry and Meghan did have unifying status in America with popularity on both sides of the political divide, then their star fell in January during the backlash against the prince’s book Spare, and now they’ve bounced back with Democrats but not with Republicans.

A poll by Redfield & Wilton for Newsweek in September showed that 25 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2020 had a favorable view of her compared to 45 percent who had a negative one. That gives her a net approval rating of -20 among Republicans.

Meanwhile, 41 percent of 2020 Biden voters felt positively about her compared to 24 percent who felt negatively, a net rating of +17. That means the difference in attitudes between Republicans and Democrats to Meghan is a swing of 37 points.

There is also the question of whether Meghan would have to lose her royal titles.

Senator Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex?

Any move into politics, even informally, would spark calls from Conservatives for her to be stripped of her royal titles.

While in the media, she is often referred to as Meghan Markle, including by Newsweek, she technically no longer has that surname and is officially called Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

When she campaigned to increase voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election, calling for “the change we all need and deserve,” Meghan provoked just such calls.

Nile Gardiner is director of the Thatcher Center for Freedom at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, which is pressing for the release of Prince Harry‘s visa records in relation to his drug admissions.

“It’s wrong for the Duchess of Sussex to be engaging in U.S. political activity,” he told Newsweek. “She’s a member of the royal family, she has a royal title.

“She’s not a working royal but she carries the title Duchess of Sussex, and in my view, if she starts campaigning politically she should relinquish that title or it should be removed by the Royal Family.

“Definitely the calls for the removal of her title will be accelerated if she decides to start campaigning for Joe Biden or Congressional candidates. She should not be engaging in any political activity as a royal.”

And if Harry were to get involved, speaking out in support of his wife, he too could be under pressure not only to drop his Duke of Sussex title but also the title “prince,” which he has been known by since birth.

“She is of course a U.S. citizen,” Garinder said, “and as a royal that carries certain responsibilities, but it would of course be absolutely outrageous if Prince Harry were to get involved in U.S. political matters. If he ever did, of course, he should have his title removed as well.”

Meghan’s children are also Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, suggesting any reference to them in campaigning might also provoke a charged response.

Meghan and Harry could, of course, simply ignore the backlash and bet on King Charles III being unwilling to strip them of their titles, which would be a logistically difficult task even before he considered the emotional significance of such a move.

And Schiffer felt Americans would not necessarily be put off by Meghan’s status as a duchess.

“Americans are not going to be biased by titles,” he said. “They’re going to look at confidence and they’re going to look at likability and whether she really supports and will fight for the issues that matter.

“We do know that Megan has a deep track record in fighting for the environment and for mental health, for young people and for equality and if those issues are on the ballot, she would be an interesting candidate.”

Meghan’s Family and Harry’s Scandals

A run for office would also put Meghan up against a Republican rival, creating a public interest justification for her political opposite number and Conservative-leaning commentators and media to revisit a litany of past scandals.

Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle’s Twitter accounts suggest she is a Trump supporter and has previously been interviewed on Fox News, so Meghan could safely bank on a healthy run of interviews in the event she was a Democrat candidate.

And the archives of Twitter and TikTok are already full of conspiracy-laden videos analyzing Meghan and Harry’s body language during royal visits that seek to paint the duchess as controlling of her prince.

Then there is Harry’s past scandals, from the photo of him dressed as a Nazi to video footage of him using a racist slur to describe a Pakistani officer cadet during his time at Sandhurst Military Academy.

Throw in the audio recording of him describing the memory of his mother wafting back to him as he applied his mother’s favored brand of lip cream to his frost-bitten penis and there is plenty of material for a Republican rival to use as fodder for a social media attack campaign.

Will Meghan Enter Politics?

Schiffer felt Meghan might have a future in politics but felt she needs to cut her teeth at a lower level before reaching the height of the Senate.

“Meghan definitely has the potential, yes,” he said. “Given her popularity with Democrats and her name ID, with the right work in the constituency that she is in, I could see her being successful with the right team supporting her, absolutely.

“On a state-wide level, less likely, but in a more regional or local level more likely. The challenge with her is she’s light on the bonafides.

“So it would serve her to have a smaller role, likely in some capacity where she’s proving her capabilities for government before she goes to a state-wide level. But statewide with the right bonafides? It’s possible.

“But we don’t know how she would hold up in a campaign, how she would execute as a government representative and those are big questions.”

Gardiner was less convinced: “The idea of Meghan Markle becoming a U.S. Senator is just utterly ridiculous. She has zero qualifications for the job and the speculation that she would run for the U.S. Senate and actually be selected and be a candidate is just a laughable idea.

“She has never demonstrated any ability whatsoever to actually carry out that role. There’s absolutely no justification whatsoever for her as the candidate.

“If Meghan Markle was politically active,” he continued, “and involved in politics as a candidate or as an activist, I expect that she would be hugely unpopular among Conservative voters.

“I do think there would be a strong backlash from a lot of the American public because she’s a very unpopular figure and she would be hugely unpopular as a political figure.”

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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