Yesterday, members of the Collegian editorial board were invited to participate in a conference call with Lena Dunham (yep, the creator of the HBO show “Girls,” whose closest tie to politics is her fictionalized characters’ blasé approach to abortion) as she campaigns for President Obama.
Ultimately the conference call was unremarkable: Lena Dunham will be voting for Barack Obama this November and was given the opportunity to share that information and encourage others to do the same (in an official way) thanks to her celebrity status.
The problem with Lena Dunham’s conference call — and with celebrity endorsements of political candidates in general — is that actors, musicians, writers and comedians are often great at imagining or pretending to be someone that they are not. This skill is highly valued and can be very lucrative for a select few, but it does not bring with it an inherent credibility.
So why do celebrities continue to be used by both of the dominant political parties as spokespeople? Most of them are famous for adding to popular culture and not for introducing bills to Congress.
The truth is that wealthy celebrities may be among the least-affected by changes in political policy thanks to their privileged positions. This election will affect the majority of U.S. citizens, and celebrities best represent a minute but recognizable minority.
It’s time that the candidates start rethinking their approach to winning voters.
Instead of spotlighting celebrity supporters solely for their recognition, both political parties should promote the stories of thought leaders, academics and working-class people who have made an educated voting decision.
Because what’s more valuable, hearing a schoolteacher’s opinion on K-12 education funding or watching Clint Eastwood mumble to an empty chair about failed economic policies?