Recently, several celebrities have had the audacity to suggest that supporting or even being mildly indifferent to President Trump isn’t the most awful thing a person could do. Sadly, instead of responding with a Kanye shrug, there has been an intense and unhealthy backlash.
Suddenly progressive writers are churning out articles about how they cannot find a way forward to listen to Kanye or watch Rosanne’s show despite being fans. For those of us who have lived in a world where celebrities have often held different policy views, empathy was low for this novel plight.
When you’ve lost Rosanne and Kanye, what’s a progressive to do? The world has gone mad. Literally tens of celebrities do not love Hillary Clinton. Shania Twain was publically shamed for saying the following:“I would have voted for [Trump] because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullsh-t. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”
She made no mention of hating any people, yet many felt emboldened to declare these comments were tantamount to hate. This inability to acknowledge, much less respect, the reality that millions of Americans voted for the person elected president is uncivil and unhealthy.
Leonard Pitts of The Miami Herald was forced to go public with his struggle to not watch “Rosanne” after Twain’s affront. Declaring that America clearly has never been more divided, he had to contemplate what to do with unwatched “Rosanne” episodes that haunted him nightly from his DVR menu.
…this is not really a question of politics. No, these are fundamental questions of identity. They are about the qualities we value. And perhaps none is more important than respect — for the dignity of LGBTQ people, for the equality of women, for the humanity of people of color, for the intelligence of the electorate.
People who don’t value those things — and I’m sorry, but if you support Trump, then no, you do not — have nothing to say to me. Nor I to them. I count that as a national loss; the very hope of goodwill withering away. I also count it as a personal loss; it means I’m going to miss the new season of ‘Roseanne.’
That’s the context of your blunder, Ms. Twain. I don’t know if you spoke in innocent ignorance or, if like Barr, you’re a true believer mesmerized by Trump’s coarse bluster. It doesn’t really matter. No, what matters is that your gaffe and the response to it remind us that America is, yet again, a house divided. Maybe you remember what Jesus said about that.
“The utilitarian ethics of whether to watch Rosanne are making this the most divided time in history,” says some progressive on the Internet. It is as if “The Good Place’s” trolley problem episode came to life and presented Pitts an opportunity to save one progressive celebrity if he switched the trolley’s course from crashing into five Trump-supporting celebrities.
Pitt’s rationale for cutting himself off from almost half of the country is an obtuse belief that his position supports the dignity of LGBTQ people, women, and people of color. Yet lesbians like tax cuts too, at least the ones I know. The African-American community has the lowest unemployment rate in years, and despite the left-wing panic, Vice President Mike Pence did no harm to gay athlete Adam Rippon, nor has he forced women into a “Handmaid’s Tale” reality.
Obamacare’s framework still is not completely gone, so people are still forced into substandard insurance policies, but that’s a hangover from the previous administration combined with irrational support from congressional Democrats and the weak will of many Republicans. Now, progressives may be reading this and be horrified at those conclusions regarding policy. The Right feels the same way about progressive ideas.
We don’t love low taxes because “rich people,” we love them because we love prosperity and recognize it does more for poor people than any other system yet devised. Capitalism has changed the course of human history, and our right-leaning hearts ache when we see people take it for granted. Our lives are so extraordinary and strikingly different from 99.9999 percent of human history. We should be grateful for the leisure time to hate-watch “Rosanne.”
Celebrities Abandoning The Left Might Let Us Talk Policy
Progressives willfully ignore that conservatives believe in capitalism precisely because it produces more food and medicine for everyone. This may be why they are melting down over any celebrities deviating from the party line. Without living in a bubble of 100 percent agreement, one must defend specific ideas instead of being able to point to celebrity consensus for reassurance.
These desertions are adding to the previous challenge explaining the #metoo movement’s beginnings in celebrity culture. This erosion of the public trust in their best set of cheerleaders, celebrities, and creepy media guys may mean they have to actually work to persuade people on the merits of an idea instead of feelings and social media hashtags.
Hashtag activism is not here to solve problems; it is here to define enemies. Celebrities are the fuel behind obtuse phrases such as “the science is settled,” and they have the intended impact of ending curiosity, debate, and learning.
This is why a direct democracy fueled with an ill-informed celebrity culture as a governing system would be a horrible outcome for the freedom and opportunity this country’s governing framework made possible. The tragedy is authors like Pitts are willfully choosing to divide themselves from fellow citizens under the guise of preventing hate, when in reality they’re preventing understanding.
ARMAGEDDON UPDATE: Major Ohio-based grocery chain announces 11,000 new jobs, $500 million in increased wages/benefits to workers & a substantial charitable investment, thanks to tax reform — which Democrats would like to repeal.https://t.co/8iIkvc17vy
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 16, 2018
Trump’s Moral Failures Are Progressive Cultural Norms
To be fair to Pitts’ points about Trump’s impact on this country, one of the more polarizing Trump statements reeked of moral relativism. This Trump statement trying to equivocate both sides in the Charlottesville protests is logical if you were raised to believe in no objective truth.
For most of us, the side bearing torches and hearkening back to awful racist imagery from our past tends to win in any debate of who was more wrong here. Trump’s lack of clarity and equivocation also reflects our culture’s rapidly degrading ability to aspire to objective truth and one of the reasons many on the Right found these comments distasteful.
Hollywood and moral relativism sadly go hand in hand. Consider Harvey Weinstein, the rise of the antihero, the wallowing in moral ambiguity to provide permission for terrible acts. Don’t be judgmental, don’t aspire to objective truth because “feelings,” yet progressives seemed shocked when they get to watch what a world leader looks like when he lives that ethos. “There were fine people on both sides.” That’s the mush-minded thinking of someone taught not to judge with moral clarity.
Our celebrities and sometimes our presidents are not always of admirable character. Celebrity affairs, Trump’s affairs, reality television, reality TV president. In a culture where the quick resolution of a rose ceremony might mean finding your spouse (spoiler: it won’t), Trump ran as that solution. It’s rocky, some might say stormy, but it keeps your attention. After the Kanye West “dragon energy” Trump kumbaya, we got treated to Kim Kardashian, queen of reality TV, noting that it was irresponsible to diagnose a mental health issue because of a tweet-storm.
He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America? Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018
Meanwhile, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host has run more than nine months of material on Trump’s mental health, often based on tweets. Maybe just maybe, some of our media and most of our celebrities should not be the source of truth for most Americans. It is a circus, but it does not have to be our circus.
“The Good Place” spends all of season two highlighting no single good answer to the trolley problem, letting us all simmer in the debate until the season finale, where Ted Danson’s character, Michael, solves it.
The answer is not to hate your fellow American for his vote. Stop stripping the humanity from those with whom you have a political quarrel, and be civil again. We will all be here after Trump leaves the White House. Go ahead and watch “Rosanne” if you want to, and enjoy Kanye if you did before.
The rest of us have learned to separate art and entertainment from people’s politics for some time. It may be time to separate our policy positions from what celebrities believe so we can judge them in a better light.