On the same day Bernie Sanders held a press conference to proclaim that Democrats lost the 2016 election (and three out of the past four) because they’ve lost touch with average Americans, President Obama threw one last celebrity bash at the White House.
On the same day when Obama sat for an interview and admitted he didn’t think Donald Trump would win the election because he lives in a “bubble,” Hollywood celebrities gathered for an awards ceremony, the Golden Globes, where Meryl Streep stood on stage and railed at Donald Trump, mixed martial arts, and the NFL.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts,” Streep said to applause.
In a year where rural voters (and NFL fans and MMA viewers) across those useless chunks of land known as the Midwest and Rust Belt turned away from Obama and to Donald Trump, Streep’s jab came off petty and vindictive. But this didn’t matter to media and Hollywood who instantly heralded Streep’s speech as a defiant act of political heroism.
“She said what so many people in that room want to say,” CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted. He’s probably right. Novelist Patrick Nathan wrote: “Hollywood isn’t a bubble. It’s a nexus of people from all over the world coming together to make art. White rural America is a bubble.”
Timothy Simons from HBO’s Veep penned a tweetstorm about “rural white voters” that ended on a rather hysterical note: “OH S*** THERE ARE HELLA PICKUP TRUCKS ON A MOVIE SET. Maybe you should get out of your white rural bubble.”
Responding to a tweet from Meghan McCain, who suggested that Streep’s speech “is why Trump won,” comedian Billy Eichner tweeted derisively: “I have no desire to ‘bridge the cultural divide’ with ignorant voters who don’t respect other cultures!” This all comes on the heels of San Francisco CEO Melinda Byerley’s open to letter to Middle America where she refers to it as a “s***hole with stupid people who are violent, racist and misogynistic.”
If media and Hollywood want to stand by the declaration that because Trump won the election with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, and white rural America exists in a bubble then the entire scope of this claim should be examined.
Yes, Clinton won the popular vote tally, a mere statistic with no baring on the outcome of the election, a consolation prize. But Democrats also lost badly in a number of statewide races across the country, ceding Senate seats, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures to Republicans.
As celebrities have gotten more vocal politically over the past eight years, Democratic influence in the country has diminished. They control just 13 state legislatures. If they lose one more, as Marc Porter Magee pointed out on Twitter, they’ll fall below the threshold required to prevent Republicans from amending the Constitution.
Democrats have suffered historic losses in the U.S. House and Senate (over a thousand seats over the course of two mid-term elections). Republicans control a majority of governorships (31) across the country.
This ongoing shift isn’t just because of white rural voters. Sanders is right. Democrats can continue to embrace celebrity culture, or they can try to earn back the votes of average Americans who can’t quote Hamilton by heart. The reaction to Streep’s speech suggests they have no interest in attempting to accomplish the latter.
Obama’s White House certainly mainstreamed and prioritized the politicization of celebrities. He seemed to believe that weaponizing celebrity influence could persuade the masses to support his agenda. “Hey look, Katy Perry loves Obamacare, so should you!”
But the more Obama relied on celebrity influence, the more voters turned against him. The Democrat Party suffered shellacking after shellacking in statewide races across country. Under Obama, celebrities have come to think of themselves as an aggrieved class. Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and countless other celebrities constantly feel the need to “respond to the haters.”
Trump mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski and imitated his disability in November 2015. One year later, he was elected president, despite the endless stream of celebrities denouncing him. Hollywood and the mainstream media haven’t yet figured out why, and they’ve spent the last several weeks venting their outrage. Maybe they’re just not as influential as they’d like to believe?
Note: Stephen Miller is not a senior policy advisor to President-elect Donald Trump. That’s a different Stephen Miller. Sorry.
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