When it comes to the 2024 election, there are a couple of points to be made — one for Republicans and one for Democrats.
Let’s start with the point for Democrats: Celebrities are not going to save you.
I know the Democrats seem to believe that leveraging celebrity in favor of their best political candidates magically raises them to victory. They’re thinking back to a time when Marilyn Monroe was singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to JFK. They’re thinking back to a time during the 1990s when Bill Clinton was playing saxophone on late night TV. They’re thinking back to a time when celebrity mattered much more than it does right now.
They’ve tried this before, trying to drag a lackluster candidate over the finish line with celebrity. It doesn’t tend to work.
But desperate candidates have to take desperate measures, which is why the New York Times is reporting on this:
President Biden is moving quickly to pump energy into his re-election bid, kicking off what is likely to be an ugly, dispiriting and historically long slog to November between two unpopular nominees.
After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024.
He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his reelection campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected.
And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.
Yes. They are resorting to the Swifties this early.
This is not a good sign for Biden’s campaign — targeting Taylor Swift, as if her endorsement will change everything. Swift endorsed Biden for president in 2020, but it didn’t really move the needle much because she’s just a very famous pop star. And endorsements from very famous pop stars do not move the needle all that much, thank God.
That said, some polls suggest that actually a fifth of voters are likely to back the candidate endorsed by Swift. A Newsweek poll found that 18% of voters say they are more likely or significantly more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Taylor Swift. This was most visible with voters under the age of 35.
So I have a mild proposal. A moderate proposal. If you base your vote on whom Taylor Swift endorses, you should not be allowed to vote in the United States. If you base your vote on the thoughts of celebrities who spend two seconds engaging with politics, but you really like their songs, you should not be voting.
If you are voting Republican based on the endorsement of Kanye West or if you are voting Democrat based on the endorsement of Taylor Swift, you should not be voting. That is not how politics is supposed to work.
It is also true that 17% said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate backed by Swift. So 18% said more likely, and 17% said less likely.
How about this? How about we don’t care? How about no one cares what Taylor Swift has to say on politics because she is a pop star who makes songs and is then featured in shot after shot by the NFL.
Here’s the key point: Pop cultural relevance does matter, but only when the person with the pop cultural relevance is the politician himself. It is not transferable credit. Barack Obama did not win repeatedly because he had celebrity endorsements. He won because he was the celebrity. Donald Trump won in 2016 because he was a celebrity.
Hillary Clinton tried to use celebrity endorsements in 2016. At the DNC, she had a bunch of celebrities like Elizabeth Banks and Mandy Moore singing “Fight Song.”
As for the point for Republicans, not everything is a conspiracy. The Right has been falling for this line for years, that every conspiracy theory now must be treated as a real possibility.
One problem with conspiracy theories is that they are almost always wrong. Sometimes they’re right, but most of the time, they are wrong because they require incredible levels of dedication and competence. Every time someone says something about the moon landing being faked, you have to think to yourself: How many thousands of people would have to be in on it and competently do their part in order to make that happen?
If you believe that a conspiracy is in control of all you see and hear, it is enervating. It makes you less likely to get active. It makes you more likely to believe nothing you do is going to end with the result you seek. There is no connection between your action and the result because there’s an intervening conspiracy to stop that thing from happening.
This is particularly true in politics. It’s the reason I still do not like the whole “Donald Trump had the election actively stolen from him by voter fraud in 2020.”
This is bad, not just because it’s not true, but there’s also not enough evidence to demonstrate it. Trump has never shown enough evidence to demonstrate that the election was rigged.
If you mean that all the rules were changed in 2020 and that there were an unprecedented number of voters in that election cycle, virtually all of whom were marginal voters who had very little interest in voting in the first place and who then sent their ballot in by mail months in advance of the election in violation of the way that law is normally supposed to work, I totally agree with that. If you want to argue that the media rigged the election by ignoring all of the relevant issues in 2020 in favor of a bunch of garbage and then actually hid stories about Biden in the run-up to the election, I totally agree. If you want to argue that social media was actively stumping on behalf of Biden and acting at the behest of actors in the Deep State to stymie stories? I agree with that too.
But that is not the same thing as the conspiracy theory that there was a well-organized voter fraud effort that deprived Trump of his reelection. The reason that’s bad is because if that’s true, why bother voting? And that, in fact, is how people reacted.
If you recall all the way back to early 2021, Trump told people there was a voter fraud effort that deprived him of his reelection in Georgia. So people didn’t turn out for the run-off election, and now we have two Democratic senators in Georgia, a heavily red state.
If Trump is the nominee, then he will likely win Georgia this time around. What happened? Did all the voter fraud just disappear?
The problem with conspiracy theories is that they cause you to believe all the factors out there that could lead to your success are actually beyond your control.
And that leads to losing.