You might call it “The Trump Effect,” but some stars are getting serious about politicizing their popularity.
Kanye West, Dwayne Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Caitlyn Jenner, Will Smith, Mark Zuckerberg — all celebrities who’ve seemed to entertain running for office.
The latest celebrity to point to his political aspirations is Kid Rock. The performer even created a website to show what his run for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat could look like.
“Donald Trump got elected. So he can, too,” voter Gary Wilson told WXYZ.
But why do we entertain the idea of entertainers running for office? And is this the new norm? Political guru Charles Lipson thinks so.
“Are we moving into a world where celebrity and politics are merging? The answer is yes. And they’ve been doing that for a while,” Lipson explains. “But the way it used to merge was celebrities raised the money for their favorite politicians, and then Bill Clinton would let them sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. Now, they say, ‘Why can’t I let other people sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom myself? After all, I was a pirate of the Caribbean.'”
Lipson teaches international politics at the University of Chicago, contributes to RealClearPolitics and writes on his blog, Zip Dialog. He says celebrities think political careers are much easier than they appear. But, he also thinks the mistrust within the electorate encourages outside candidates.
“I think it’s more a comment on the fact that people who are highly elected officials in states are not highly regarded by the electorate based on their performance. And, I think that people don’t trust the government, so outsiders get a particular edge under those circumstances,” Lipson says.
Lipson says name recognition is the biggest advantage a celebrity has in a political race. The second is low expectations from the electorate.
“They can either seem like they’re a lightweight, they don’t know the…