Lights, Cameras, Vote!


Celebrities, they’re just like us. They go grocery shopping, they take their kids to school and they vote in presidential elections. But do their votes affect ours?

Many celebrities have been vocal about who they’re supporting in this election cycle. Meryl Streep delivered a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton will be our first woman president,” Streep said, “And she will be a great president.

The DNC was a star-studded event, attended by Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Demi Lovato and many more. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keyes performed while countless others addressed the audience, including Chloe Grace Moretz, Sigourney Weaver and Sarah Silverman.

In contrast, the Republican National Convention looked a lot less like a variety show and a lot more like what a major political event is expected to look at. The convention was attended by far fewer and less notable celebrities. Most notably, Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty”, actor Scott Baio and Trump’s children spoke. Kid Rock performed.

Did this difference in celebrity at the conventions affect voters watching from home?

It’s unlikely that the amount of famous people at each convention directly correlates to amount of votes each party’s candidate will receive. Hillary Clinton won’t win the presidency based on a Boyz II Men’s performance. However, celebrities can affect a candidate’s campaign.

Celebrities opinions are heard by many. Their fame serves as a megaphone for their opinions and beliefs, and can serve as a source of reaffirmation for regular citizens. If someone is already a fan of President Obama and his administration and a fan of Beyonce, then Beyonce’s endorsement of Obama serves as a way to reaffirm one’s beliefs. Celebrities also serve as a way to form a community. For example, Lady Gaga’s fan-base calls itself her “Little Monsters.” Communities form around a set of shared ideals or interests, and also serve as a way to validate those beliefs. Lady Gaga supports Hillary Clinton in this election and that validates her supporters’ beliefs.

Celebrities are known to set trends. When celebrities use their fame as a platform to encourage voting and political awareness, this encourages regular citizens to become more educated and involved in politics.

A major way that celebrities are able to affect a candidate’s campaign is through financial support. The average citizen cannot afford to donate $2,700, the maximum donation allowed from a single donor during an election cycle, to a candidate’s campaign. Many celebrities, however, can. Steven Spielberg, director and cofounder of DreamWorks, has donated $2,700 to Hillary Clinton herself, and 1 million to Priorities U.S.A. Action, a super PAC that supports Clinton. Beyonce Knowles, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks have all made contributions of $2,700 the Clinton campaign.

Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he doesn’t need anyone else’s money to run his campaign, he does receive donations. However, his donor list doesn’t look like the list of names for a red carpet event. Trump receives donations primarily from ordinary citizens, and his donations are typically below $2,700.

Although celebrities cannot make or break an election, they can influence voters in small ways. They can use fame to encourage people to learn about politics and become active in this elections, or to support candidates financially.

Ashlynn Long – Asst. Views Editor