August 19, 2013

Most political observations from younger Hollywood stars tend to mimic the tired left-wing yawners from older Hollywood generations.

Today, it is a rarity to hear something original and interesting from a Hollywood A-lister. So political America did a double take last week when Ashton Kutcher  gave an impromptu motivational pep talk to a young audience at the Teen Choice Awards.

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 11: Actor AshtonKutcher speaks onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2013 at Gibson Amphitheatre on August 11, 2013 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ashton Kutcher at the Teen Choice Awards on Aug. 11 in Universal City, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Drawing upon his own work and life experiences, Kutcher said,  “I  believe that opportunity looks a lot like work. When I was 13 I had my first job with Dad carrying shingles to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust of the ground. And I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

“Opportunity looks like work” should be a bumper sticker or a postscript inscribed on every high school and college diploma. There probably isn’t a Democratic Party leader in America that would say anything so unvarnished. And when any Republican does, he or she is almost always attacked as old-fashioned, out of touch and even downright cruel.

Words like “work,” “bootstraps” and “self-reliance” have been purged from the Democratic dictionary and have become part of the vocabulary of the so-called dog-eat-dog and heartless society that Democrats want to pin on Republicans.

I routinely meet with young people who are looking to work in Washington. As part of my standard speech I tell these young people, “Take almost any job. If you are any good, responsibility and authority will flow your way, and more money will follow. There is almost no such thing as a dead-end job.”

Who knows, maybe Ashton Kutcher was able to do something America’s political leadership can’t do, which is to talk honestly to America’s youth about the dignity of work.  As Kutcher said, “Your life is what you make of it,” and hard work and hustle are still the ways to create your own opportunity.

Good for Ashton Kutcher.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @edrogersdc

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.