My Dear Fellow Celebrities,
It is now time to leave. I am, of course, referring only to those of you who promised to do so after the election of Donald Trump. And, no, I’m not joking. For the record, I didn’t vote for either candidate. I voted on the basis of moral fiber and was therefore left with no other choice but to write in my dear mother Nancy. Therefore, I have no right to complain and so I am not. I am, however, asking for you to follow through on your word. Because, here’s the thing…
That “high road” that you rode so elegantly with the Clinton campaign has been rather hastily dismissed. We now see our youth marching in the streets, not to protest policy or to demonstrate against a specified corruption, but because the results of a legal and transparent election process are suddenly unacceptable for them. People are being attacked. Arrests are being made. Fires are being lit. Hat-imal vendors are being raided. It’s chaos.
Make no mistake: this is an intimate relation to the entitled sorrow you express when publicly weeping and gnashing your teeth over whether you’ll buy that villa in Spain or that condo in Vancouver. Let me be, perhaps, the first to explain to you that publicly threatening to use your wealth to deliver the harsh punishment of your absence is an insult to men and women who struggle paycheck-to-paycheck as well as a declaration of your conditional relationship with this nation. Personally, I’d rather not share a fox hole with you. But, more importantly, you chose to place your integrity, and ours, on the line. A lack of follow-through undermines the potential political and social strength of our entire industry and sets a terrible example for future entertainers and progressives.
And let me take a moment here to address those youth: Hey, guys. First of all, even though you’re sharing that two-bedroom apartment in Van Nuys with two other people, plus somebody’s cousin from Milwaukee, just keep in mind that it gets better. And some of you will actually “make it” to the extent that there will, eventually, be a microphone in front of your face much of the time. Please remember this piece of advice: You don’t always have to use it. Of course, it’s your right to do so and you shouldn’t listen to the jerks on social media who tell you that you suddenly have less of a right to speak. But think of it like this: When you are privileged enough to have a voice, it is incumbent upon you, not simply to speak for the voiceless, but to spend a fair amount of time considering who those people actually are. That, and when the dude’s cousin from Milwaukee says “Hey, why don’t we all drive to Vegas!”... and he will… think twice about gambling with people who have giant, gold-plated lions in front of their hotels. Or with those who simply have giant gold plated hotels.
But the entitled voice can also veer easily into the realm of cold condescension and/or display an utter lack of maturity at the most pivotal of times. For instance, on Wednesday morning, author and radio personality Garrison Keillor published in the Washington Post a concession on behalf of polite society everywhere by putting the election results down as a defeat to ego and “proud illiteracy”. Maybe that was an attempt at graciousness? More likely it was an excellent demonstration of the attitude which fueled at least part of the rush to punch elitists in the nose on Tuesday.
For those of us staying, I say we huddle up real quick and all agree to grow up. The time has passed for President Obama to do this. In fact, I see no one standing up and leading by example. Even a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm being expended in these “protests” could have been enough to put Clinton over the top. But, even more troubling, this fomentation comes at the end of a string of incidents in which police lives have been targeted and violence escalates from both sides of a very deep divide.
If you are a card-carrying Democrat, the time has come to realize that the soul-searching prescribed by the media to the GOP must now be applied to your own party. You were not defeated by racism and sexism. Those are easy, sloppy malaprops which do nothing but obfuscate the fact that we have just witnessed a resurrection of the silent majority. It rose in demographics that were sharply divergent from what you believed was possible and took aim at a dual-party establishment which had grown complacent in its belief that it was firmly rooted. Refer to the Pew Research Center’s post-mortem and you will see that quite a large number of people who voted twice for Obama did indeed vote for Donald J. Trump who also garnered roughly the same share of female voters as Mitt Romney did in 2012. To suggest that Trump was elected solely by unseen hordes of angry, rural white men is tantamount to suggesting that our electoral process is rigged.
The truth is sometimes hard to swallow. But the simple truth, according to these same statistics, is that the demographic split with the most growth was college-educated versus non-college-educated voters, a divergence that has not been seen since 1980 when southern Democrats abandoned the party en masse. Yes. I know. One of the great causes of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was free-to-affordable college tuition, and as a long-term policy I understand it and support it. But, instead of tossing this up as a loss to those of lesser intelligence, perhaps consider the reality that your party’s lack of message (and success) with this position reflects a deep-seated presumptuousness that everyone shares your values.
The fact that this week has existed as an Alice-in-Wonderland moment for you is perfectly consistent with the disconnect created by a deep wealth/culture gap, as well as with the soft elitism that has infected your party’s establishment. It was evident in the belief that an indictment of racism and sexism equals a campaign against someone consistently screaming about jobs; it was evident in the leaked, internal emails that led to the resignation of former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz; and it was further evident in the revelation that debate questions were casually provided to the Clinton campaign by current DNC chair Donna Brazille. Some of you, like it or not, wield power within that party due precisely to that same elitism. Please begin using that power in the only mature and forward-thinking fashion possible: dismantle it by standing up and championing new blood.
Do I find Trump’s style distasteful? Yes. Do his policy positions concern me? Tremendously. And his appeal to some of the worst qualities in humanity are deeply troubling. But let’s make no mistake: those are our qualities as well. As Americans, we have a share in the ownership of our nation’s character and, like it or not, character is primarily defined during times of hardship. If you want it to improve it, the first step involves growing up and acting in the manner you expected from the opposition when you thought you were going to win. Then lead by example. There will come a time, and very soon, when the market will be very bullish on maturity.