At the Republican National Convention in 2012, it was Clint Eastwood who made a splash with his speech regarding President Obama. At the Democratic National Convention in that same year, Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame, made a veiled reference to Eastwood’s speech and made overtures toward younger Americans to vote. In 1964, actor Raymond Massey made a campaign commercial for Republican Barry Goldwater. Actor E.G. Marshall filmed a spot for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Paul Newman campaigned for another Democrat in 1968, Eugene McCarthy. Sammy Davis Jr. endorsed President Nixon. Singer Pearl Bailey in 1976 for President Ford. Even Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000. The list of celebrities endorsing and campaigning for Presidents and presidential candidates is almost endless. I once watched a PBS documentary entitled, “Vote For Me”, where the then head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party referred to politics as “show business for ugly people.” He was alluding to the entertainment value of political campaigns and how the political process had become superficial over the years. This documentary was filmed in the mid-1990s.
Today, it seems as if politics and entertainment industry have come together as one. Entertainers of all political stripes are now engaged in the political process by adding their opinions to the issues, events, and candidates of the day through social media and traditional media outlets alike. Has the separation between politics and entertainment become blurred over the years? Do you believe that entertainers have any influence on the political process?