Oprah, Wasn’t it Enough to Recommend our Books?

With regards to how we elect a president, democracy in the United States is a tad different than it is in most other democratic countries. As far as I can tell, we have the only country where a majority of the population can vote for one candidate, but another candidate can win the election. Thank you founding fathers for giving us the Electoral College. Well, maybe not thanks. I’ve never really liked the concept that a majority isn’t necessarily good enough. It always seemed to me like my vote was being manipulated.

Manipulation is also why I’ve never been a fan of mixing religion and politics and why I think that separation of religion and state was one of the better ideas in our constitution. Religious leaders tend to have a significant influence on their congregations and, to me, that’s just another opportunity to weaken the value of my vote. Congregations vote as the pastor leads them, not because the argument is well supported or thought out, but simply because that’s what the pastor said to do. After all, he is close to God, isn’t he.

Despite that, I have to say that I was impressed by the recent Saddleback Church Forum moderated by church pastor, Rick Warren. From my view, it was easily the most effective discussion I’ve seen on the issues facing us in this election. It was head and shoulders above any debate that we’re likely to see, mostly because it was essentially devoid of any posturing between the candidates. Pastor Warren asked the questions, identical ones for both presumed candidates, and they answered. The key was that neither knew what the other had or would say. That kept it honest and enlightening. Thanks Rick.

But I have to wonder if getting untainted answers from the presumed candidates is really going to benefit the voters. Based on a recent paper published by Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore, two professors at the University of Maryland, my vote isn’t worth as much as Oprah Winfrey’s. According to their study, Oprah’s endorsement garnered over a million votes for Barack Obama.

I’ve often voiced my dissatisfaction with celebrity endorsements. Celebrities may not have the same authority that a pastor has but, in most cases, they have a larger flock that is no less fanatical. I don’t have a problem with a celebrity supporting a personal cause. They can champion the environment, support medical research, protect animal rights, encourage educational growth or any of a thousand other good causes. That’s a good use of their celebrity.

But, when a television host can leverage her vote into a million and one votes with a nod of her head, that pisses me off. My vote should be worth as much as hers. No, that’s not right. The correct way to say that is that her vote should be worth ONLY as much as mine. The problem is that too many people in our country will blindly follow the lead of a celebrity. They don’t follow because the argument was compelling or the points were well supported. They follow the celebrities lead because they liked the last show that aired, movie they were in or song that they sang. That’s just plain wrong.

I’m not saying that Oprah is a bad person. The truth is, I admire her. She’s an entertaining, intelligent, compassionate person who gives of herself every day. She usually wields her celebrity well and I’m sure that she did due diligence in deciding who she was going to support. But, her opinion, and vote, is not worth one million times mine under any set of circumstances.

It gets worse every day. Madonna just opened her lastest tour in the United Kingdom. It it she has a slide show that equates John McCain to Hitler. I like Madonna. I like her songs and I really like her stage outfits, but give me a break, Hitler.

I used to have a personal policy of not supporting celebrities who felt a burning need to get involved with the political process. I was bi-partisan about it, eschewing both liberals and conservatives. I stopped watching Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman movies. I gave away my copies of the “West Wing”and I don’t listen to the Dixie Chicks any more (that really hurt). But the problem seems to be that nearly every actor, entertainer and television host on the face of the planet wants to aligned themselves with someone. It’s getting to the point were my only option for entertainment is 1950’s monster and horror movies. It’s getting bad when you can tell off the top of your head how many scales Godzilla has on his tail and I’m sorry, but Lon Chaney Jr. wasn’t that good of an actor.

So, what’s the answer. Do that we pass a law prohibiting celebrities from endorsing a candidate? Maybe we could call it “separation of show business and state.” No, that won’t work. Even celebrities have freedom of speech.

The answer is to educate the electorate in the fine art of making a decision on their own. Voters have to return to the days when they made their decision based on the issues and not on who their favorite actor supports. That’s more effort, but it’s the only way that the system will work the way it was intended. The option is to elect three hundred high powered celebrities as permanent designated electors and let them choose the President. But, if we did that, who would tell us which celebrities to vote for?

See Ya,

TD

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6 Comments on “Oprah, Wasn’t it Enough to Recommend our Books?”

  1. Lon Chaney Says:

    Not that good of an actor? Oh, really???

    How about, instead of waiting to be told whom to vote for, becoming an active, intelligent participant in the process?

  2. tigerdad Says:

    Mr. Chaney,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I vote in every election and have since I was eighteen. I make my choices by evaluating the candidates’ position on issues I deem important. By definition, that makes me an active, intelligent participant in the process. Which, by the way, is exactly what I was advocating.

    I stand by my opinion of the original Lon Chaney’s acting skills, but I apologize if I inadvertently offended you personally

    Have a nice day.

    Tigerdad

  3. Lon Chaney Says:

    Sir, I believe that you have me confused with my son, Lon Chaney, Jr., whose real name is Creighton Tull Chaney and who used my name without my permission.

    While I am a modest man and you are more than entitled to your opinions, that my work has stood the test of time speaks for itself.

    Best wishes,

    L. C.

  4. tigerdad Says:

    Mr. Chaney,

    I do apologize for the confusion. You’re correct of course. My reference to Lon Chaney was to your son who acted in a great number of 1950’s era horror films and not to you, the Man of a Thousand Faces.

    Although by all indications he was an amicable person, he certainly didn’t have your skills in acting. But then, he didn’t have the advantage you had of honing your skills during the era of silent films.

    Apparently he missed out on another family talent, that of returning from the other side. By all reports, you passed away in 1930. I’m pleased to see that either the reports are wrong or you’ve developed an impressive new skill.

    Any chance that you’ll be returning to the silver screen?

    Welcome back!

    TD

    P.S. Which candidate do you prefer?

  5. Lon Chaney Says:

    Dear TD,

    You don’t want my opinion of politicians, trust me. But since Mr. Obama is a very distant relative of mine, I would have to say him. Although that McCain fellow sure looks familiar. I may have worked with him in vaudeville.

    Indeed, you are correct. I checked out in 1930 — not by choice. But we have DSL here and the speed is heavenly. I was always one for gadgets and even learned how to type. So, the transition to computer wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I worry about using Windows, however. There’s something strikingly evil about it; and, I wouldn’t want to tick-off The Boss, if you know what I mean.

    As for making my comeback in pictures, I’m still working on that one. It’s hard to find an agent, when they can’t see you. On the upside, one of my lost pictures, “Poor Jake’s Demise,” was found recently. So, that should be reissued in the next few years. And this year’s Cinecon convention, which begins in just a few days, is showing the restored version of one of my little-known films from 1917, “Triumph.” So, in that regard, I have returned to showbiz.

    Thank you most kindly for the warm greetings. Nice little place you got here. Good luck with all your endeavors.

    Sincerely,

    L. C.

  6. tigerdad Says:

    Dear Lon,

    I’ve throughly enjoyed our conversation. Thanks for stopping by. I rather wish that I’d had a opportunity to meet you while you were still “in residence”. But, hopefully I’ll be able to rectify that when my time to change locations arrives.

    I’m pleased to know that broadband has spread so far. That will make things easier when my time comes. If Windows becomes an issue, let me know. I’ll hook you up with a good Linux machine.

    See Ya,

    TD


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