Even The Hill seems skeptical about the prospects for celebrity intervention, and for good reason. With less than 100 days until the midterm elections, the entertainment industry has ramped up its political activism in hopes of undermining Donald Trump by producing a blue wave in November. But will it turn into box-office poison at the voting booth?
Many Hollywood celebrities, appalled by President Trump, are ready to dive into the midterm elections. But there’s also a sense of caution, and in some cases retreat, after their enormous support failed to push Hillary Clinton over the finish line in 2016.
Sunday marked 100 days until Election Day, and at least one expert on the entertainment industry and politics says the next three months could see an explosion of celebrity involvement.
Only if Trump’s luck holds out. Even by the most charitable analysis, the failure of Hillary Clinton made clear the limits of celebrity glitz and glamour. Hollywood fawned all over Barack Obama and he got elected twice. They fawned all over Hillary Clinton, and she lost the election. At the very least, it proves that celebrity embraces don’t really matter in the places where that election was decided … which look a lot like the places which will determine the outcome of this election, too.
That’s not going to keep them from trying:
“I would not be surprised that, given this more highly politicized environment of Hollywood and the frustration of many celebrities of the outcome of the 2016 election, that they would see this as an opportunity to push forward the change they want into the midterm elections,” says Kathryn Cramer Brownell, an associate professor of history at Purdue University.
“Given the experience of the 2016 election, and just in general the changes in Hollywood and #MeToo America, you see more people thinking about, ‘OK, how can I get involved in these issues?’” adds Brownell, the author of “Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life.”
Literally no one else would be surprised at it, either, because that’s what happens in every political cycle. Hollywood spends a ton of money on politics, almost all of it aimed at supporting Democrats and progressive causes. Over the last ten years, that pattern hasn’t stopped Democrats from fading into near-oblivion on the national and state levels, as Jake Tapper pointed out yesterday:
The Democratic Party is the weakest it has been since the 1920s, but ¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/ATqKBx4bq0
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 29, 2018
Jake got a ton of criticism for this, but the status of Democrats is undeniable. During Obama’s tenure in the White House, the Democrats lost control of the House, the Senate, more than a thousand seats in state legislatures, and eventually the White House — all with the entertainment industry fawning all over Obama. The Obamas have even become Hollywood celebrities themselves, with a big Netflix deal for original programming. They may be living the best life (and hopefully enjoying retirement), but their efforts haven’t done much to rebuild the DNC or the Democratic Party’s fortunes, and neither have their celebrity friends, either.
If anything, the 2016 election was a revolt against the political establishment and the cultural elites in the media and entertainment. Trump would looooooove to make the midterms a referendum on those elites all over again, rather than on his own performance. It’s a briar-patch strategy, and it might even work — especially in the Senate.