Commentary: Pop culture politics can be dangerous

Commentary: Pop culture politics can be dangerous
March 22
03:00 2018

By Michael Lane

Did you know there are more celebrities serving in the political arena than you may have initially thought? Come let us journey down the U.S political memory lane. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between celebrity and politics, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call … Pop culture politics.

Many of you are too young to notice the “Twilight Zone” reference there, but it’s true. Throughout the history of politics, we have seen a rapid increase in politicians assimilating into pop culture and vice versa.

U.S. parties have become increasingly polarized, with both parties pandering almost exclusively to the most radicalized parts of their supporters. Dozens of celeb political runs have assented and dissented just as quickly.

Kid Rock, Shaquille O’ Neal and others have actually run for a political office or flirted with the idea that they someday would.  There have been several triumphant celebs to experience success in this crossover: Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and longtime NBA player serving as the current mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson.

Throughout our history, it’s been more important to Americans for our presidents to have the common touch than to be well read or well educated, and today that means a president who understands pop culture.

However, our nation hit a new celebrity height when longtime media personality Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. The danger comes when a politician, including the president, becomes a personality more outsized than the office of the presidency itself, when he or she not only hangs with celebs, but becomes one. Any immature involvement of a president or politician in the media only diminishes the dignity of the political seat or presidency and unwisely gives both our allies and our enemies the impression that the American people and the leader of the free world are fundamentally unserious.

Do you think we all took for granted presidents who distanced themselves from pop culture that were stern and focused on initiatives showing a seriousness of purpose that some voters have appreciated? That is for you to decide.

Another danger of possible celebrity entangled politicians in office is having ulterior motives. Ulterior motives are near and dear, generally speaking, making it easier to be selfish when faced with choosing personal interests or keeping the interests of the people. Due to those types of selfish desires, it is easy to foreshadow that figure surrendering power to forces foreign or domestic on particular issues. To capitulate to that extent is an indictable offense.

The political advantage for the president or candidate who not only has his finger on the pulse of the culture, but who can manipulate it through the gravitational pull of his or her own charm and charisma, is enormous.

Michael Lane is a resident of Winston-Salem and a Winston-Salem State University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

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