Madonna Wants Me

Cold, stiff Al Gore apparently didn’t need to woo the hearts,
and votes, of young women during his ill-fated presidential
election campaign in 2000. He had Jon Bon Jovi to do it for him. As
Joshua Green of The Atlantic writes in his article
‘Madonna Wants Me,’ the New Jersey rocker epitomized how
celebrities can help a political campaign. ‘In addition to hosting
fundraisers and speaking on Gore’s behalf, Bon Jovi energetically
went to work soliciting money and involving his friends in the
campaign. He traveled with little more than a guitar, often
speeding ahead when Gore’s tour bus was running late to hold a
restless crowd with a spontaneous acoustic set.’ America’s youth,
it seems, trust and identify more with the pop culture icons they
see on MTV than they do with the run-of-the-mill personalities on
CSPAN.

Since Bill Clinton pioneered the process in the 1990s in his bid
to snare the MTV generation, politicians have been relying more and
more on the endorsements of celebrities to get exposure in a
culture that constantly moves on to the next sound bite. ‘The
courting of politically minded celebrities reflects a kind of
cosmic convergence,’ Green writes. He quotes Michael Feldman, a
Democratic strategist: ‘It’s a way to break through to audiences
who get their news in nontraditional ways. A lot of people don’t
watch the evening news, but they do watch Leno’s monologue.’ That’s
also because young people scare the hell out of many politicians,
Green adds. Campaign issues more often than not reflect the views
of older voters, since they are much more likely to go to the
booths in November. And relying on the endorsements of celebrities
alone is no surefire way to win an election. Green quotes Larry
Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of
Virginia: ‘The only people dim enough to vote for a candidate
because Madonna endorsed them generally don’t vote.’

Still, these unlikely marriages between celebrities and
politicians are going strong. This year everyone in the running for
the 2004 Democratic Party nomination joined the game. John Edwards
bagged Ashton Kutcher and Dennis Hopper; John Kerry landed Jerry
Seinfeld. And Green leads off his article with the unlikeliest of
pairs — the sex icon Madonna endorsing four-star general Wesley
Clark!
Jacob Wheeler

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Madonna Wants Me

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