Could Kanye or Kid Rock Save the 2020 Election or Is Celebrity Damaging Politics?
The rise of the celebrity politician
As American citizens become increasingly disengaged with American politics, there has been a rise in the ‘celebrity politician.’ The ‘celebrity politician’ is a celebrity character that uses their status as a celebrity to secure credibility in the political sphere. With a rise in a celebrity culture in America, fueled by social media growth, people are losing faith in traditional politicians and instead looking to popular celebrities to run the country. But isn’t Trump evidence enough that celebrity doesn't work in the White House? With celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Kanye West expressing their political views and wishes to run in the 2020 presidential election, could celebrity influence now make all of the difference in politics?
Millennials and Celebrity
Whilst there has been reported moral disengagement with politics in the US, Millennials are said to be more engaged than ever with political activism. Millennials are recognised as a core generation that is participating in and changing politics in the US. According to Oberlo, 90.4% of all millennials are active on some form of social media. However, as millennials obsession with celebrity and social media increases, are they voting for politicians for the right reasons? And was Trump’s election partly due to the millennial obsession with celebrity?
Trump as a ‘Celebrity Politician’
Donald Trump embodies the ‘celebrity politician’ stereotype, capitalising on his successful TV show, The Apprentice. Trump uses this to secure credibility in the political sphere and boost his popularity. However, many argue that celebrity politicians signal a political decline. Trump’s unfiltered Twitter rants damage the important distance between politicians and the public. Additionally, the carefully crafted speeches and PR that has been the key in previous US presidential campaigns are now being replaced by unpredictable social media content. But Trump’s Twitter could also be the key to his success with direct access to millennials. His celebrity status already ensures a large Twitter following and a ready-made millennial audience that he can manipulate with his political messages. Keep up with Trump’s tweets surrounding the presidential election here.
Rapper and songwriter Kanye West expressed strong interest in running for president in 2020. Similarly to Trump, Kanye was extremely vocal on Twitter regarding his political views. Kanye frequently tweets his support for Trump, stating:
“You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
However, this was shortly followed by West announcing a break from politics, tweeting in October 2018, “My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!” Perhaps this demonstrates the nativity of celebrities that enter the political sphere.
Fans of West shouldn't be disheartened about his withdrawal from politics. The rapper cryptically tweeted “2024” on the 21st of January 2019. Could it be that the growth of the celebrity politician will continue to build momentum in the US and Kanye will run for presidency in 2024?
Kid Rock also expressed an interest in running for president after vocalising his support for Trump in the 2016 election. However, it was later revealed that his bid for the Republican Michigan Senate was in fact a publicity stunt to promote his new album Sweet Southern Sugar, again illustrating the way in which celebrity can make a mockery of politics.
So with celebrities increasingly crossing over into the political sphere and vocalising their desires to run for presidency, only to shy away when the reality hits, is it evidential that celebrity involvement is just surmountable to a few tweets, and is this making more of a mockery of American politics? However wide a celebrity’s influence or however many followers they have, this doesn't qualify them as political actors, and whilst they openly talk about what they would do differently to the politicians in power, there is no evidence that their influence in the White House would make any difference or improvement to the country.