In an increasingly fraught and divisive political era, almost everyone is tempted to wade into the debate and share their opinions, regardless of how well-informed they are. Lately, this list has included celebrities who have stepped out of their typical roles as musicians, movie stars or entertainers to add to political discourse.
It is the opinion of the Editorial Board that while celebrities have every right to join political discussions, Wake Forest students should think critically about the value of their contributions.
Some of the celebrities that have lately voiced their opinions on politics include singers Kanye West and Taylor Swift, on opposite sides of the aisle. West has voiced his support for Trump and expressed that he may run for president in 2020, while during the run-up to the midterm elections, Swift encouraged her fans to support Phil Bredesen, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s open seat in Tennessee.
While the Editorial Board surely supports celebrities’ efforts to raise enthusiasm about voting, as greater engagement among the populace only serves to make our democracy stronger, we encourage students to critically think about the weight with which they listen to celebrity opinion on politics.
There is a difference between raising awareness about the importance of political participation and spreading information that may be interpreted as veritable fact, or outright telling fans who to vote for rather than encouraging them to use independent thought and form their own opinions.
Celebrities have every right to share their opinions, just like each and every one of us. However, celebrities have power that every day people don’t have — the power to reach people and make an impact. They are role models. With that, celebrities should be cautious with what they share.
Forming political opinions is about deciding who and what platforms you trust, and even then taking their opinions and research with a grain of salt.
Even though it is difficult for an individual to research every single candidate and issue in their entireties, college students should put some effort into forming their own opinions and should not vote entirely based on party or celebrity endorsement. You should be able to say you voted for a candidate or amendment for reasons other than someone, or some party, told you to.