The 2016 US Presidential campaign does not remotely resemble the election process as our founding fathers knew it to be. We come to perceive White House hopefuls through a growing onslaught of constant, carefully managed media bombardment, intensifying as the election approaches.
The blending now of celebrity and politics can make it challenging, to nearly impossible, to know what candidates are really like.
Add to that the candidates’ scramble to land celebrity endorsements. Singers, actors, writers, the rich and famous line up behind their chosen one, luring in their own fans, convincing voters to also choose whom they endorse…after all, if John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Duck Dynasty, Oprah, George Clooney, Taylor Swift or Bill Gates all believe in them, they must be worthy.
American culture is so conditioned to elevate, admire, and trust celebrities, that the fame surrounding them rubs off on anyone associated with them. It’s like magic pixie dust, transforming a waif into dazzling royalty. Politicians are keenly aware of this, and know how to capitalize…and do! They appear at entertainment extravaganzas, hire bands and orchestras to play popular music, even get enthusiastically given permission to use famous and well loved music as their theme songs.
Not all celebrities who speak out on issues take sides. Some instead use their position to bring attention to issues for which they have concern, even passion. This type of support indirectly rubs off on the politicians who have come out publicly on those issues and causes, either for, or against. Every time Jeff Bridges speaks out on the issue of childhood hunger, more attention is drawn to this problem.
Some celebrities spend some time in the political spotlight, and then later retire to the background. One such is Bruce Springsteen, who was highly visible in 2004 with his support of John Kerry’s presidential run, and then again in 2008 for President Obama.
After Obama was elected, Springsteen posted on his website, “I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand,” and that he is not a “professional campaigner.” He has continued to write songs that express his social and political views, and his fans know his philosophy.
Celebrity and politics is a marriage guaranteed to last, even intensify. This obligates voters to practice discernment, and investigate their candidates’ stands on the issues that matter to them.