November 3, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm PDT
Celebrity Power in Politics
USC Center for the Political Future
Celebrities are everywhere in politics – from elected officials to failed candidates, to outspoken champions on specific issues. To name just a few: Muhammad Ali, Ronald Reagan, Lebron James, Donald Trump, Al Franken, Alyssa Milano, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Caitlyn Jenner – the list goes on. The intersection of celebrity power and politics is a decades-long tradition in the U.S. Why? Is that trend stronger or weaker?
Why do celebrities get involved in politics in the first place? They can attract attention to candidates, get people excited about voting, and are helpful with fundraising. They can also alienate their fans, cause controversy, and hurt rather than help campaigns or causes. Should celebrities be the public’s moral compass or should that be left to political and spiritual leaders? Who has the people’s trust?
This conversation is part of our Bully Pulpit podcast series. When President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase bully pulpit, bully meant “wonderful;” and Roosevelt, according to the Oxford Dictionary, was envisioning “an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue.” Every exchange is guided by standards central to the Center’s mission: Respect each other and respect the truth. Opponents are adversaries, not enemies. And if you lose, don’t burn down the stadium.