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Is the era of celebrity driven politics fading?

By Junon Jean | Copy Desk Editor
On November 13, 2018

Bring it Home rally and concert flyer. 

On Nov. 5, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s team in partnership with FAMU’s Student Government Association held a “Bring It Home Rally and Concert” in the Al Lawson Center. It featured Sean “Diddy” Combs and friends. 

Students and staff across FAMU’s campus were anxious to see who fell under the umbrella of the wide range of Diddy’s friends.

Attendees were consistently surprised throughout the night as celebrities like Diddy, Monica, Gunna, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Tiffany Haddish, Will Packar, Angela Rye, Quavo from the music group Migos and Christian Combs.

Every person who took the stage explained the importance of voting, whether it was before or after his or her performance. 

“Tomorrow at 11 a.m., everybody needs to stop what they’re doing and get in line to vote,” said comedian Tiffany Haddish. “Y’all not going to say y’all too tired right?”  

Gillum himself took the stage at one point to continue to encourage students to participate in election if they had not taken advantage of early voting.

Photo credit: @beyonce on Instagram 

Singer Beyonce Knowles took to Instagram to endorse Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, with a caption stating, “We can’t voice our frustrations and complain about what’s wrong without voting and exercising our power to make it right … every vote counts, every race matters, everywhere,” while wearing a Beto for Senate cap. 

Oprah Winfrey also joined in on the campaigning, supporting Georgia governor candidate, Stacey Abrams. Winfrey used the hashtag #staceyabramsforgovernor in her Instagram posts while simultaneously tagging the politician. 

Winfrey also went door to door around Georgia neighborhoods to inspire civilians to go out and vote. In one of Winfrey’s posts, she captioned it stating, “Do your part, VOTE! Where ever you live. Use your vote as your vote.”

Despite the clear support by celebrities for these specific candidates, by the end of election night it was evident that neither Gillum, O’Rourke, or Abrams successfully won their desired positions – even if Gillum and Abrams are challenging the vote counts.

Gillum conceded at 10:57 p.m. Nov. 6 with a one percent difference from his opponent, Ron DeSantis. By the time Gillum conceded, he has 48.8 percent of the votes, while DeSantis had 49.9 percent.  

Beto O’Rourke lost to his opponent, Ted Cruz, after only accumulating 48.3 percent, while Cruz had 50.9 percent.

Georgia’s gubernatorial election results, while in flux today, ended on Nov. 6 with Abrams losing to her opponent, Brian Kemp, with him leading at 50.3 percent, and Abrams only accruing 48.8 percent of the votes – although there has been reports of voter suppression, as well as many uncounted absentee ballots. 

This raises the question: is the era of celebrity driven politics fading? When former President Barack Obama first ran for office in 2008, he was widely endorsed by many celebrities, including President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates, founder of Motown record label Berry Gordy, chef Gordon Ramsey, and fashion designer Alexander Wang, among the celebrities from a long list who openly supported Obama.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Obama was successfully elected as the 44thpresident and the first African-American president, and the support from these celebrities did not hurt his chances.

During the 2016 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton ran with celebrity endorsements from actress Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union and John Travolta. The results of that election did not turn out in Clinton’s favor, as her opponent – now 45thpresident Donald Trump, won.

Although having celebrity driven politics is clearly not a negative thing, as these celebrities have fans who look to them as role models and can easily inspire supporters of themselves to support what they believe in as well. However, a person’s beliefs are sometimes stronger than what their favorite celeb may recommend. 

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