Artwork by Amanda Smithivas
Celebrities have become sought-after and alluring aspects of society. Breaking out from Hollywood, many have come to enter the cooking scene or the fashion industry. But a problematic area that celebrities have seemed to enter is the political arena. Celebrities are typically idolized by many different demographics, but many of those who idolize celebrities are young people. Celebrities entering politics can be good for spreading messages, such as voting initiatives or information about climate change and other social issues, but it can quickly go wrong if they delve too far. This transition from Hollywood to politics can create a multitude of conflicts of interest and affect many different demographics of American society.
Popularization of Celebrities in the Political Arena
Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kanye West are some celebrities you may have heard of when politics have been discussed. Oprah Winfrey is practically known by almost everyone in the United States, accrediting herself as a famous journalist and then making it into television. Much of what Oprah Winfrey covers involves social issues and opinion pieces, but that does not mean that she does not also belong to the entertainment industry. This factor tends to be overlooked, and completely avoided when Oprah Winfrey running for president became a popular idea/trend. At one point, many people genuinely wanted to see Oprah Winfrey running for office, due to her nice demeanor and established credibility. However, this could not be further than what is needed. Although Oprah is wildly successful and popular, the confusion between popularity and credibility can lead to the promotion of an unqualified candidate to a high-ranking position. This manifested itself into reality when Arnold Schwarnegger was elected as the Governor of California in 2003. Schwarzenegger had no previous credentials in American politics, yet he served until 2011. More recently, Kanye West entered the 2020 presidential race. West has had many controversies over the years, and one of the biggest ones was the declaration of himself as a candidate for the presidential race. This not only creates a possibility of an unqualified person in the highest position in the nation, let alone one of the highest position in the world, but also could take votes away from one of the most important elections of the modern era.
President Donald J. Trump
On the note of the 2020 presidential race, one person who must be discussed is another 2020 presidential candidate, as well as the current President of the United States: Donald Trump. Donald Trump was a businessman(arguably not a good one), although it was mostly his family’s business, before he made his way onto The Apprentice, a popular television show throughout the 2000’s. The Apprentice only served for Trump’s name to reenter the households of Americans, giving him the traction he would later use to in 2016. On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump officially launched his presidential campaign—— something that would change the face of American politics. The 2016 presidential election was one of the most important elections, given the status and position of Trump. Donald Trump was not a politician when he ran for president, but rather a television star or a character per se. Many of his arguments during his 2016 campaign were unlike those of typical Republican politicians, but this managed to entice many people. Because Trump was a celebrity and a TV star, this made people believe he was different. And in a way, he was different but not in a good way. It is now 2020, and Donald Trump has significantly added the polarization of our society. But he has established a cult-like following that has contributed to the problems surrounding the 2020 presidential election.
It is important to discuss what can be done and re-emphasize what has been mentioned. Many celebrities are idolized way too much, and are not nearly as qualified as other politicians. Although many people may like to believe their favorite actor or actress is the best person in the world, they should not take that belief to politics. Politicians are not people to idolize, and yes, that applies to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez too. Politicians should not be seen as above the American population, because their job is to work for the American population. Politicians should work for the people and should therefore not be seen as better than. And no matter, when you are reading this, please remember to vote. No matter who politicians work for, no voice is stronger than the individual’s in a democracy.