Friday, July 29, 2016
Hollywood vs. the Underbelly of America
Quite a contrast in celebrities from one convention to the other. Donald Trump wanted to bring some big guns. It was reported that he tried to enlist a number of conservative celebrities, but none were interested. Chuck Norris said no, as did Bruce Willis and Tim Allen. Not even Clint Eastwood pitched up to have a conversation with a chair.
If Hollywood gives you lemons you make lemonade. and the Trump campaign tried to make what it could out of Scott "Chachi" Baio, the "Restless" Kimberlin Brown and Antonio "CK" Sabato Jr. He did manage to score Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd to play at the convention outdoor arena, but still couldn't resist the temptation to steal Queen's We Are the Champions. I'm sure Johnny Van Zant would have let him use Call Me the Breeze. The biggest star was his own daughter, Ivanka, who introduced her father on the final night.
Quite a contrast to the Democratic Convention, which saw a number of A-List celebrities both on stage and in the audience. One of the more amusing stories was the conservative reaction to Bradley Cooper, who was shown in the audience. He had played conservative icon, Chris Kyle, in "American Sniper," and it seems many conservatives thought Bradley was one of them. Katy Perry similarly disappointed conservative fans by singing "Roar" at the convention. The stars were shining on Hillary.
Not that any of it really matters. Hollywood actually has very little pull in politics, if so the Democrats would be dominating politics. The greatest strength the Republicans have is their appeal to the simple man, no better personified than in the son of the Duck Commander, Willie Robertson. His wizened father was found in the audience, but apparently is still a Ted Cruz man.
You really can't call it a "Southern Strategy" anymore as the Republicans have locked up the Deep South vote. It has become an expanded strategy to capture the "Orthogonal vote," the squares who Richard Nixon appealed to, and also helped get George W. Bush elected. These are the persons who feel the mainstream has passed them by and vote for persons they think more closely resemble themselves. For the most part they loathe Hollywood.
It is hard to understand why they identify with Donald Trump. Maybe the red trucker cap helps. Mostly, it is the language Trump uses -- harsh, unrefined, often mono-syllabic words just like his name. It is the kind of language that resonates among disaffected white voters, echoing a shotgun blast. He is also very good at seizing on symbols that these folks identify with, even if the symbols are nothing more than cheap props.
He's been called a "blue-collar billionaire," which is equally hard to understand since he went to Wharton Business School, which he is very proud of, and inherited his father's real estate empire. Anyway, it seems to be working, as he doesn't carry the elitist baggage that cost Mitt Romney the last election, and Mitt is only worth 1/40th of Trump's wealth, if we are to believe Donald's numbers.
Still, you figure Trump could have pulled in a couple of big name celebrities with that kind of clout. Tila Tequila and Dennis Rodman would have given the convention some splash. Loretta Lynn had urged Trump to call her, but it seems he didn't get the message. Here's a rogues' gallery the Daily News assembled.
He might still be able to draw some of these celebrities out on the campaign trail. It's going to be a long slog until election day. But, Trump is a big enough celebrity in his own right that he doesn't need these lesser celebrities to vouch for him. It is enough to don his trucker's cap and make his mono-syllabic appeals to America's forgotten underbelly, which he hopes will carry him to the White House.