Skip to main content

US politics

Celebrities have taken over the Republican Party

Clint Eastwood addressing a chair at the 2012 Republican convention

“Every once in a while,” says Matt Lewis in The Daily Beast, “it’s instructive to stop and remember how low Republicans have sunk.” Just 10 years ago, the GOP’s nominees for president and vice president were the eminently reasonable Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Today? The erstwhile “party of family values” has Donald Trump as its figurehead, a “thrice-married casino magnate” who once “raved about how hot his daughter is”. And Republican hopes of retaking the Senate in the midterm elections hang on their candidates in Georgia and Pennsylvania: Herschel Walker, a former American football star who “lied about fathering multiple children and allegedly paying for an abortion”; and Mehmet Oz, a “quack TV doctor”.

The Republican Party has been “taken over by celebrities”. Many thought this was the fate that would befall the Democrats, given their popularity with the Hollywood set. But because the GOP was so devoid of celebs, Republicans coveted anyone who’d give them the time of day. They offered a prime-time spot at their 2012 party convention to Clint Eastwood, “who proceeded to give a speech to a chair” (he was pretending Barack Obama was sitting on it). They embraced any old half-famous nutjob, from rock musician Ted Nugent to the bizarro stars of reality TV show Duck Dynasty. Then they ceded full control to Trump – and the floodgates really opened. Celebrities have become politicians before, of course. But they used to at least have some relevant experience. Today’s lot come in right at the top. “And it’s all downhill from there.”