Celebrities have been urging people to vote for weeks—some have posted "I voted" photos or videos even today on social media.
Tuesday on Instagram, Justin Timberlake posted a video of himself sneaking onto a Zoom meeting and surprising Biden volunteers in Pennsylvania. "As you know, your city, your state is gonna be huge in this election…." the star said, thanking them for volunteering and essentially encouraging people to vote for a Biden/Harris ticket.
From Jennifer Aniston to Katy Perry, celebrities often encourage others to vote, especially in an election year, although this year their excitement seemed to morph into a desperate plea, a zealous cry for help. "Vote like your life depends on it" is a slogan I've seen celebrities and regular folks alike tweet or post on social media.
Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the rest of us, our lives do not depend on voting. And pithy or dramatic slogans like this don't really add to the general discourse. For starters, that histrionic slogan gives the government a lot of power. Vote for so-and-so because if the other guy wins, you'll lose your job, healthcare, religion, happiness, and sanity.
Usually it's only progressives who throw out God and make politics their religion. Bob Dylan predicted that in his 1979 hit song that we all "Gotta Serve Somebody." It didn't take long for the left to realize that identity politics, anti-religious bigotry, and an increasingly behemoth government that would enable people to feel entitled, rather than responsible, would do just as well as God.
Thus, the second reason why the Hollywood celebrities' campaign for voting as if your life depended on it also launches from a false premise: Such intensity indicates if people just vote one way or another, they might be able to control the outcome.
Of course, Americans can contribute to the outcome, but they can't control it. In a democratic republic, Americans choose who represents them, but each person only does their part. Look at the COVID-19 pandemic: Try as we might to understand and mitigate it, the virus continues to spread. Control is hardly possible. We can only do our part.
I depart from many conservatives in that I'm actually glad celebrities use their platform to encourage others to vote. I wish they'd be more consistent and do so during the midterms, or highlight policy experts in different arenas. But I don't think celebrities need to stoke fear, outrage, disdain, or panic by telling people only this election matters most, that it will make or break a person's career, marriage, happiness, or health.
It gives people a false sense of security when they think that their vote changes the world. It does not. Their vote simply contributes to this wonderful process—a process so many people have fought to earn. Use it, of course and use it wisely: But don't depend on voting to alter the course of your life or for you to change the outcome.
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Remind me next month