Celebrities endorse candidates
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
From actor Clint Eastwood to singer Bruce Springsteen, celebrities are getting involved in the current election.
Political science and international relations professor James Magee said he understands the reason behind celebrity political participation.
“Because they are celebrities they make a difference,” Magee said. They have money, they have a voice, and they have an audience. They have instantaneous recognition. By virtue of the fact that they are very, very well-known people, well-known to the public, they have influence.”
Junior Maggie Stohler said she thinks fame gives celebrities the power to influence important issues.
“They think they have the voice that regular people don’t, so they want to use it,” Stohler said.
Junior Debbie Zandi said she believes celebrities’ impact on the election is determined by voters’ political knowledge.
She also said the opinions of political pundits, like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, could influence opinion. People who do not know much about politics are more susceptible to outside influence, she said.
“If you have one concern or have read one unbiased article then I don’t think [the opinion of] Hilary Duff is going to make a difference,” Zandi said.
Sam Losow, a senior political science major, said he agrees that uninformed or undecided voters are more easily swayed if they see their favorite celebrity endorsing a political candidate. He said celebrities have the ability to abuse the power they hold and shape the election.
Daniel Kinderman, political science and international relations professor, said he believes the impact of celebrity endorsements is a symptom of a larger issue in American politics.
“Their system does not endorse deep thought, does not endorse contemplating the issue or even understanding things,” Kinderman said. “It’s very superficial. Clint Eastwood got more attention than Mitt Romney did at his own convention.”
Eastwood recorded an automated phone call, or robocall, in which he tells voters to fire President Barack Obama for failing the nation. He then appeared at the Republican National Convention, where he gave a speech criticizing Obama.
Both Magee and Kinderman said both political and popular celebrities can have significant financial influence on an election as well. Bruce Springsteen’s fundraisers have helped Obama with his campaign this year, but anonymous contribution by political celebrities have an impact that is protected by law.
With the Supreme Court decision on the Citizen United v. Federal Election Committee case to allow corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to campaigns via Super Political Action Committees, people, including political celebrities, can anonymously donate to campaigns.
“People have always had the ability to donate to a campaign, but not in the same way that it is now occurring,” Kinderman said. “That magnifies the impact of certain citizens and private interest on the whole political process. Citizens United is a disastrous decision and the impact on democratic politics on America is very negative.”
Magee said the Citizens United decision allowed people to become political celebrities and influence the election, but remain out of the public sphere, such as Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch. The two brothers are owners of the second largest privately owned company in the United States, Koch Industries.