After every Presidential election there is deep discussion of how various groups influenced the outcome. Did Hispanics swing key states? Were suburban moms a fore this time? Did seniors flex their muscle per usual? Their answers are seldom crystal clear. Except in 2016, when there was one group clearly failed to make a difference: Celebrities.
The near-universal support of Hollywood could prevent Hillary Clinton from going down in electoral flames. The endorsement of veteran actors like Sigourney Weaver and hip young stars like Katy Perry was supposed to mobilize mass support for Clinton. Instead, numerous toss-up states that had voted Democratic in recent years went for Republican Donald Trump.
Why? Several reasons. First, the potent liberalism championed by many entertainers was out of favor with voters frustrated by decades of slow economic growth and increasingly strident political correctness. People just weren’t buying what Beyoncé was selling in 2016 – unless it was an album, of course.
What’s more, celebrity has been devalued. In the age of DYI stardom made possible by the internet, entertainers of just modest talent can become stars by posting videos on YouTube or making a sex tape. Young people might be amused by such characters but only the dopiest millennial listens to political advice from these faux stars.
Compare today’s often-vapid entertainers to those of the 1960’s. Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Muhammad Ali, Sidney Portier. Even if you didn’t agree with their politics, you had to acknowledge these were incredibly talented people with deep convictions.
They made a difference.
Hollywood continues to lash out against Donald Trump, with celebs attending protests and making videos filled with dire warnings about the next four years. Based on their anemic influence on the election, they might be better served to follow the advice of radio talk host Laura Ingraham – “Shut up and sing.”