Celebrities not welcome in political spotlight

Apparently it has become “in vogue” for celebrities to get involved with various causes. I think this is great. I love that Sandra Bullock is donating a million dollars for tsunami relief. I love that a host of other “beautiful people” are doing all they can for other equally worthy causes, such as Angelina Jolie with UNICEF and P.Diddy with Get Out the Vote. I don’t even really care what their motives might be, as long as the cause gets help.

There is just one aspect that really bothers the heck out of me – the celebrity political endorsement that plagued us so incessantly last fall and will likely return for a grand encore in another four years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that celebrities vote, donate money, grease the palms of political culture and so forth. However, the endorsement and soap-boxing these people do is ridiculous. This is a phenomenon of unbridled idiocy.

Why should we value their opinion over Quinton and Midge’s in Decatur, Ga.? I guess it is because Ben Affleck learned so much about how to lead a country by fighting in “Pearl Harbor,” or that Martin Sheen garnered much experience from his time in “The West Wing,” or because Britney Spears spent all that time with a snake.

Anyway, it’s not like I don’t know why they do it – it works (at least the endorsers and politicians they support think it does). Somehow they have managed to dupe a significant portion of the 18-to-24-year-old demographic into believing that Curt Schilling is more educated on what it takes to make a good president than, say, Henry Kissinger. I don’t know about you, but I could have had a lot more confidence in the 2004 political campaigns if Warren Christopher had been schilling for Bush and Casper Weinberger had gotten his soap-box on for Kerry.

But instead we got “The Boss” for Kerry and “The Terminator” for Bush. In 2008, I think more people should say to Affleck and Schilling, “Shut up – get off the stage!” But we won’t, and everyone knows it.

Kerry and Bush knew it would probably have given them more credibility (at least Kerry) if they had government leaders, scholars and experts making prominent endorsements, but I guess someone told them, “That ain’t how ya win an election.” And you know what? We should be pissed about that. We should be pissed that “that ain’t how ya win one.” We should be pissed that politicians don’t put the Kissingers and the Jack Valentis in front of us. But as pissed off as we should be, it’s not entirely their fault.

The apathy of the ’90s and the celebrity worship – not healthy emulation, but worship – has led the political elite to believe that we will buy anything those people sell, even when there are much better pitchmen. Now I know that these people are smart (at least some of them are) and I will agree that they can get the attention of the cameras, and that is great.

However, why don’t they say this: “Look, I think President Bush will be best for the job, but don’t take my word for it – here’s someone significantly smarter and with more experience with the presidency than myself.” I know this probably won’t happen, but someone’s got to be operating in a perfect world on the issue and I guess that’s my cross to bear.

Celebrities can and should support political candidates. I want them to. But to go on television and try to sell us something that they really do not have any experience with is just an insult to our intelligence. In the future, they should try helping out the debate by pointing us in the direction of the scholars and leaders who can give us informed and thoughtful opinions on the candidates. We’re smarter than the political process gives us credit for, I hope. Granted, not all the responsibility lies on the politicians and the celebrities, but on pop culture’s celebrity worship and us, as well.

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