It’s Election Day – and frankly, thank goodness. I mean, could you possibly take one more day of all the mudslinging, badmouthing and overall bad sentiment perpetuated by this election? More than anything, I’ve been sort of fascinated by how the candidates have chosen to build their brands this election. From my point of view, what it’s boiled down to is a game of celebrities versus billionaires.
In one corner, we had Obama and his celebs. I’m not gonna deny that it was sort of exciting to get an email from Sarah Jessica Parker, and then from Beyonce, then one from Anna Wintour inviting me to have dinner at her house (“Hell yes!” would be my RSVP), then the one from her majesty Oprah, and lastly, from Julianne Moore, just a few days after she won the Emmy. Here they all were, writing me (seemingly) personal emails, urging me to “make my voice heard” and support President Obama for President.
It’s no secret that Hollywood is liberal, and that many of today’s hottest actors – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna among them – have been working hard to see that Obama gets reelected. But while companies have been using celebrities to endorse their products for years, I think there’s something slightly icky about their getting involved in my politics. First of all, I don’t think every celebrity out there shares my exact same values, and we certainly don’t have the same amount of money in our bank accounts. Secondly, while several of them have been very savvy in their career moves (nice move, Ben Affleck, transitioning from actor to director), they certainly don’t all have reputations for being the sharpest tools in the shed. And while I can’t deny that I am wooed by images of the President dancing with Bruce Springsteen, it also makes me feel like he’s having famous people do his heavy-lifting for him.
Then, in the other corner, we had Mitt Romney. He may not have had celebrities promoting him – unless you count Clint Eastwood and his chair – but he certainly had the big bucks. Sheldon Adelson, the 12th wealthiest man in America, vowed to give as much as $100 million to keep a Republican in office (and as a result, received a hilarious proposition from Sarah Silverman). Donald Trump, another big Republican supporter, not only donated his riches but also his outlandish commentary (and awe-inspiring hairdo) to seeing that Obama doesn’t spend four more years in the White House. The relatively new “Super Pacs” brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, often coming from individual donors, for Romney. And Wall Street has been largely anti-Obama since the president came down hard on the banks – at least in their opinion – after the sub-prime disaster of 2008. Unfortunately, it seems that all this money has resulted in is vicious TV commercials and slanderous ads for Republican candidates.
At the end of the day, I believe the best way to create a presidential brand isn’t by having billionaires OR celebrities do your shilling; it’s by coming out fighting with the best ammunition you have – your actions and beliefs. So on this 2012 Election Day, you can either vote with the brand endorsed by celebs, or the brand endorsed by billionaires. Or you can just do what people have been doing for hundreds of years, which is to vote with your heart. That’s what I just did, and it feels pretty darn good.