The Problem With Political Celebrities

Vance-McAllisterAlmost on a daily basis, we see people who are not actual politicians make outrageous statements in what can only be seen as a blatant attempt to keep their name in the limelight. Whether it is a former half-term governor and failed vice presidential candidate from Alaska or brief political prop from the 2008 election, the American public is repeatedly subjected to headline after headline about their last ridiculous or offensive bout of verbal diarrhea. Now I know we’ve had a lot of conversations about just ignoring them, but the fact of the matter is that the media on both sides of the aisle makes their living off covering these stories. At the same time, these individuals depend on the media to report on their remarks, and that’s why we have what I like to refer to as “political celebrities.”

So what is a “political celebrity” and how are they different from regular politicians? Being an actual lawmaker or even a lobbyist is hard work in comparison to being a political celebrity. Lobbyists and lawmakers have to read actual legislation, have staff meetings and all the other job responsibilities that come with holding office, or influencing those who make the laws. Many politicians and lobbyists can also go an entire career in relative obscurity, passing or influencing legislation, barring some embarrassing incident like being caught kissing a married staffer or perhaps wrecking a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

There’s no better example of this than the former half-term governor and failed vice presidential candidate from Alaska who should have either stayed in office or faded into obscurity. But she’s not the only one who relentlessly craves every moment in the media spotlight, there are plenty of other lesser-known but equally morally bankrupt individuals who follow the blueprint. Take for example, Phil Robertson of the fading reality show “Duck Dynasty” who just spoke at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, an event a member of my own family attended. Mr. Robertson isn’t a politician, but like other political celebrities he does say things that make liberals angry, which in turns makes him a hero of the conservative fringe. The same thing goes for Donald Trump who doesn’t need the money, but has repeatedly inserted himself into political stories for the sake of his seemingly unquenchable ego.

Consider this, how many members of Congress can you name off the top of your head? Do you know who is the current Secretary of Defense or perhaps the Secretary of Agriculture? How about your state representatives? These are all people who are involved with making decisions at the national, state and local levels that affect you and I, and everyone else. And then we have the political celebrities who use every excuse they can to get time on TV and the public’s attention in order to stay relevant, get speaking gigs and sell books. Sadly, I’d guess that more people could name more of these individuals than they could with actual lawmakers.

Now that I’ve explained what a “political celebrity” is, your next question might be “so what’s the problem with them?” To that, the answer is not only do we need to get money out of politics when it comes to campaign financing, we need to get these political celebrities out of politics as well. They tend to only add vitriol and contribute to the dumbing down of our political discourse, and unfortunately the media feels the need to report on every hyperbolic, idiotic statement they make. We may not be able to completely eliminate political celebrities from the national conversation, but refusing to react to the next dumb or hateful thing to come out their mouths is a great way to start.

And just in case you forgot, once again, here’s what’s at stake this coming November:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives

—33 seats in the U.S. Senate

—46 State Legislatures

—38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Are you registered to vote? Do you know where your local polling place is? If not, turn off the TV and put down your iPad. It’s time to get to work.


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  • Sandy Greer

    I agree political celebs ‘dumb down’ our convos, and add vitriol. But I wish writers at FP could come together on this. Manny says we should ignore them, but in the Trending Today column – as I write this – are articles about:

    1) Joe the Plumber – assassinate politicos
    2) Franklin Graham – Muslims go home
    3) Sarah Palin – Zombie Apocalypse
    4) Cliven Bundy – crazy!

    ^^^It’s a little schizoid. 😉 Just saying…

    I had an interesting convo recently, with somebody whose ideas to get money out of politics and lessen government corruption were thought provoking, and included something I hadn’t previously considered. He’ll either present arguments here, or not. But the fact people have fresh ideas – good enough to persuade – is hopeful, to me.

  • R Vogel

    I think there is more than just the dumbing down and it is contained in the article itself. They are a distraction, and feint, if you will, that keeps the national attention focused on and arguing over completely irrelevant people saying irrelevant things while most people do not know who their elected officials are and voter turn-out in mid-term elections is a sad joke. Bravo, Sandy for pointing out the hypocrisy. How many articles do you have about the political races underway? Whose who and what’s at stake rather than the most recent asinine thing Sarah Palin said. The fact that she is a dope is new to no one. But that the Regressives are poised to take over the reigns of government may be!

    • Sandy Greer

      One point: I don’t actually think it hypocrisy, if the other writers haven’t ‘bought in’ to Manny’s POV. I liken it to a left hand not knowing what the right is doing. And think any organization is at its most effective when presenting a clear message – whatever that message may be. That’s why I think they should be on the same page.

      Other than that – yes; I agree entirely with what you said. I especially like your idea to focus on what’s at stake. Because the stakes are high.

      • R Vogel

        Mmm, You may be right, it may have been a bit overstated. I was perhaps reading into the fact that the author is ‘co-founder’ but not knowing the structure of the organization, nor how many co-founders there might be, I was speaking out of turn. Thanks for the correction.

  • Matthew Reece

    I wish we could have some anti-political celebrities.