Last week, I was listening to (the marvellous) Paul W. Smith broadcasting from my hometown while doing some morning work. At one point he began discussing the news that yet another Michigander, Kid Rock, was considering a run for Senate*, with (if I recall correctly) Free Press writer Kathleen Gray, and comments from still another Michigander (we’re everywhere, bwah ha ha!) political consultant Tom Shields:
…Shields said nothing surprises him about politics anymore.
…It wouldn’t matter that the rocker has a boatload of baggage, from frequent crude insults to a brief marriage to bombshell actress Pamela Anderson, to a picture he tweeted out just a few hours before his Senate tease, showing him flipping an unseen person the bird.
“Normal political baggage does not apply here. You’re not going to beat him because he dropped an F-bomb somewhere,” Shields said. “Traditional political rules don’t apply.”
Paul W. suggested the possibility—and he may not be far off the mark—that we may be entering an era in which only celebrities run for office, because normal people aren’t especially keen on having our lives aired out on every source of media 24/7. Modern celebrities, on the other hand, are not necessarily circumspect or indeed terribly concerned about their public behaviour. Think about that for a few minutes. The hallowed halls of government *ducks lightning bolt* filled with famous, infamous, and semi-forgotten movie stars, news anchors and anchorettes, rock and pop stars, perhaps even a few of their agents, shrinks, and “spiritual advisors”. Though…I suppose there’d be an influx of plastic surgeons into DC unlike any invasion ever seen (granting that there are obviously quite a few doing pretty fair business right now). That in itself might be good for the economy, but DC is hardly hurting in that area.
As (if I recall correctly) Gray said to Paul W., if you’re already a Kid Rock fan, very little from his past is going to bother you, if anything does, and it’s unlikely to stop you from voting for him. The same probably goes for fans of other celebrity type persons, and there is in fact a dizzying and disturbing array of the latter (and I do mean disturbing array—just think about it).
But the most recent US Presidential election aside (please, please), would such celebrity candidates actually garner enough votes to be elected—even if said election also offers, let us say, one truly excellent candidate for each of the other major parties?
As my title indicates, such a horror seems entirely possible, especially considering how genuinely celebrity-obsessed much of our society is. Not everyone falls into that category, to be sure, but a substantial number of people are consumed by celebrity news and entertainment and the like…well, the fact that so many are in fact so absorbed by it is rather unsettling. In fact, that’s what I find most unnerving about the prospect of more and more celebrity politicians: those who would put these bizarre, pampered creatures into power over us based on popularity and manufactured personality instead of ideas. But we’re a good ways along that road already, as you no doubt know.
As the old adage goes: We are what we eat, and that surely doesn’t apply only to actual food (in which case I’m eggs, coffee, and dark chocolate, but that’s beside the point). What the citizenry so avidly consumes may well come to govern us, because it is apparently all many have interest in focusing on. Considering the quality of the diet, this is a problem.
What do you think? And to Paul W.’s point, would you ever or have you ever considered running for public office, only to back out for the sake of your and your family’s sanity and privacy? Believe it or not, I have—with encouragement from folks in the know from that part of the world—but declined exactly because I didn’t want my personal life being rifled through. And while a sinner like everyone else, I’m actually pretty darned boring. (A contrarian might argue this quality could be an asset these days.) But there are a few sleeping dogs in my life I very much prefer to let lie. You?
* I’ve nothing, really, for or against Kid Rock. Other than a couple of his songs I don’t know much about the fellow.