He’s an American Idol star and he might soon be a Congressman.
Clay Akien, a 35-year-old born and bred North Carolinian, was able to capture the hearts of millions a few years back when he came in second place on the popular television show. On Tuesday, he managed to earn more votes than his Democratic challenger Keith Crisco in the House of Representative primary. Aiken has a slim margin – set at an official 389 – in the race where Crisco has yet to concede.
Even though Akien is outside of the one percent margin that would constitute a recount in North Carolina, provisional ballots have to be finalized. That process should be complete by first of next week along with military ballots.
Aiken is just another in the seemingly long line of celebrity faces making waves in the political landscape. We’ve seen this before with folks like Al Franken, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Wyclef Jean.
But is Aiken, like his other celebrity-turned-politician counterparts, really experienced to take a seat in the political arena?
The Democratic hopeful lacks political extensiveness, as he hasn’t held as much as a town council seat before. Even so, he outlines some of his strong points in his campaign video. His experience largely seems to come from his childhood and largely seems to be based in one word: caring.
And caring is what matters to the voter.
While limitations do exist regarding who can and cannot run for public office, the First Amendment cannot forbid someone from running simply because of a particular belief or background. Get enough signatures and you’re in.
And who’s to say these celebrity people cannot represent the common (wo)man? Sure, they might have a name for themselves. But what about caring about a cause or helping others? Can they not do unto others as others would probably do to them? And who knows; the fact they have a name can probably go a long way in Washington. I mean, have you read This Town?
A five-o’clock-shadow Aiken
I think the issue here is education about the issues. We’ve seen this before in the case of Ventura, someone who was greatly indebted to the political institution. He cared about making a difference and making changes. That he did. He was well educated about what the folks of Minnesota needed and is still passionate about all things politics.
At the end of the day, I don’t think of it as a surprise that celebrities often are victorious in elections. As Darrell West and John Orman write, celebrities bring about a “white knight” phenomenon. They are the new blood that’s not a gray-haired politician. Many voters see celebrities as more real than their incumbent challenger. It’s a sense of normalcy that, when investigated further, isn’t really that normal at all.
But if you’re voting on a whim, you’re doing it wrong. You’re playing the celebrity card. They’ve been in a movie, so all of a sudden they are your favorite. You didn’t think to look at the voting record where they voted twice to fund puppy mills and slaughter unicorns, did you?
So what do you think? Should celebrities enter the political ring?