The Dark Side of Celebrity Politics: What happens when celebrities start weighing in on politics and policy?

In a perfect red, power suit, Kate Middleton rolled out a new initiative to raise awareness about the critical years of brain development in early childhood. Critics say that Kate is all suit, no details. What proposals is she actually calling for — More pre-schools? Better quality daycare? Higher quality child nutrition? Nobody knows. All we know is that baby brains* are important. 

Ex-presidents, First Ladies, members of the British royal family, and beautiful people with more than two million followers on Instagram are in a unique position in world politics. They can, by virtue of their massive followings, get people to care for five minutes about issues that are normally classified as “a bummer.” 

When celebrities take on these pet causes, it’s all fine and even laudable for the most part. The problems happen when these efforts distract from real efforts happening by more serious people, and when there’s a grift. But even in the best cases, the use of celebrity soft power exists outside the bounds of normal democratic politics. Really, our elected government officials should be making us care about those big issues and coming up with solutions, not celebrities looking for a hobby.

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