Carstens: What happens when politicians play celebrities


Editorials, columns and cartoons.

Courtney Carstens

Just this last month, Hillary Clinton, former first lady, former Secretary of State and now presidential candidate, was part of a skit on Saturday Night Live.

While Clinton is not the first politician to do something like this, it makes me wonder as a constituent whether politicians should play the celebrity card during their campaign.

I don’t believe a person who is supposed to be held at such high regard should be blurring the lines of what it means to be a politician compared with what it means to be an entertainer.

With current celebrity Donald Trump running as a candidate, this presidential race already looks like a joke. When we add in the publicity stunt he will indulge in Nov. 7 when he hosts Saturday Night Live and what Hillary has already done on Saturday Night Live, our country and government officials appear ridiculous to the outside world. Celebrities shouldn’t run our nation.

One reason many people, mainly sponsors, endorse the idea of these government officials doing such lowly stunts is because the polls often rise for that particular candidate.

This is because some individuals believe politicians make themselves appear more likable or more like the average person, as opposed to a high and mighty authoritarian figure. It also taps into an entire new audience that may not pay as close attention to politics as they do more entertaining subjects.

Gerald Ford experienced a rise in popularity in the polls after making an appearance on Saturday Night Live. His comedic facade was clumsy, which is not something a former president should be remembered for.

Another individual who experienced a rise in popularity was Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska. Her rise in popularity and 15 minutes of fame wasn’t through politics but as a celebrity on her TLC show called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” This shows how the line between politics and entertainment has been blurred.

These actions make me question the intent of the American people when they vote for government officials. Are we voting for our leaders based on their comedic persona and how they appear as a celebrity, or based on their ideas that are supposed to improve the country?

When these political leaders or candidates appear on late-night comedy shows, our national election turns into a high school election — a popularity contest at best.

When we were in high school, many of us voted for the most popular or fun person for the job. Or we voted for who our friends voted for.

We are now doing this in politics and it’s a joke. The constituents are not voting for the person who has the best ideas for our nation moving forward but are instead voting for the person who presents him or herself as the more hip or cool candidate.

This was not the Founding Fathers’ idea of how the election process should work. Candidates performing as actors or musicians discredits our nation on the world stage.

Our nation has been viewed as the country that seems a little “coo coo for Cocoa Puffs” since the days of our Founding Fathers because of our ideas on key topics like health care and gun control. We are laughed at, and my guess is the laughter will only increase in volume as want-to-be celebrities attempt to become the next president of the United States. 

When our presidential hopefuls attempt to be the citizen favorite by going on shows like Saturday Night Live they not only make a fool out of themselves — intentional or not — but also make a fool out of the United States as well.

Politicians are constantly blurring the lines between what it means to be a highly regarded figure and an entertainer. While walking this tightrope boosts poll ratings for government hopefuls, we as citizens must make it our primary goal to determine who is the best viable candidate for the the job at hand and not let his or her “act” cloud our judgment.