Can We Stop Treating Politicians Like Pop-Culture Icons?

By Luna Salinas··  7 min read
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Can We Stop Treating Politicians Like Pop-Culture Icons?

We currently have politicians acting more like celebrities than representatives of a district or state. Even worse, individuals celebrate them and treat them as pop-culture icons.

With so many problems currently plaguing the country and our culture, we need to stop celebrating politicians and start holding them accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

You can go on Etsy and find “Cuomosexual” merch (presumably expressing sexual attraction for New York governor Andrew Cuomo), which has reviews on it, meaning that people actually bought it. Real people bought this kind of merch touting the governor, who is responsible for placing 9,056 COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, as some sort of sex symbol. 

Similarly, you can buy feminist prayer candles with the faces of politicians, including Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Kamala Harris. If a politician is hailed as a saint, that would indicate that they’re seen as virtuous or holy or whatever is akin to that for people who adamantly claim to not be religious.

We desperately need to stop treating politicians like saints or sex symbols or pop-culture icons. The fact that there’s a considerable market for this sort of merch serves as an indication that we need this reminder: we elect politicians; they work for and represent us. Just because they’re a politician doesn’t mean they’re automatically admirable or worthy of respect. It means they need to work for and prove themselves to us. The minute they stop doing that, we can do one of three things: protest the harm they’re doing, vote them out in the next election, or recall them.

Our Culture Treats Politicians Like Celebrities

Many publications glamorize politicians and write about them like they do about celebrities. AOC is written about in Popsugar Beauty: “I Tried AOC's Entire Beauty Routine, and Now I Get How She Always Looks So Radiant”, and “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Ready For Spring With Her New Lob Haircut.” You would think she was an actress by the way they write about her. And in AOC’s case, specifically, she acts more like one than like a congresswoman.


She’s touted as a sweetheart for the progressive movement, despite (or because of) behaving antagonistically towards people on the other side of the political aisle. She’s libeled members of Congress — particularly Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley — and then lied about it, and baselessly claimed there are “legitimate white supremacist sympathizers that sit at the heart and at the core of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives.” She stirs up drama for herself like an e-girl, and has streamed gaming events with Ilhan Omar and other Twitch celebrities, where she additionally encouraged viewers to register to vote on, an unofficial website (the official website for checking voter registration status is

aoc gamer

Despite how she’s treated by mainstream publications and despite how often you see her on Twitter and the news, she isn’t loved by the very district she represents. She has one job — that of congresswoman. Her job isn’t to be a fashion or makeup icon, and it’s not to be a celebrity or streamer. Her primary responsibility as a congresswoman is to represent her constituents, and it would appear that she’s failed to do that, given her approval numbers in the past.

After AOC heavily advocated against an Amazon deal that would have brought to Queens, New York (not her district) a projected 25,000 jobs and $27 billion in tax revenue over two decades, she saw her approval rating go down. Around that time two years ago she had an approval rating of 31% and a disapproval rating of 43% among registered voters in New York. This is quite a drastic shift from her ratings earlier that year, with 34% viewing her favorably and 29% viewing her unfavorably. Perhaps surprisingly, it would appear the real world is unimpressed with her too, if the results of a Heartland/Rasmussen poll of 1,000 people are any indication. According to the poll, 48% of likely voters see her unfavorably in some way, while only 37% see her favorably in some way, and 15% say they’re unsure.

When we treat politicians like celebrities, we fail to take them and their responsibilities seriously, which can adversely affect those in the districts they represent. If Millennial women are cheering for AOC, it could draw attention to them and her fame, meanwhile her constituents are left ignored because they aren’t her cheerleaders and aren’t offering her attention that many would love to have.

This weird celebration of politicians for simply existing isn’t limited just to AOC, it extends to the president as well. After years of the media and mainstream celebrities bashing former President Trump, Chrissy Teigen publicly celebrated Joe Biden following her in January of this year, made a big deal about it, and then requested the account unfollow her. 

I don’t get it either. I guess it’s a joke, but she celebrated the account actually fulfilling her request, so it comes across as Teigen highlighting that the president’s account followed her, and they do as she asks. It’s pointless and ultimately reported on as if it’s cute or funny.

maxine waters bustle

Even 82-year-old House Representative Maxine Waters felt the need to weigh in on an incredibly raunchy song. Talk about trying to stay relevant.

Treating Politicians Like Celebrities Puts Them above Ordinary People

For a long time, even before the massive political and cultural division we see today, we treated celebrities like they were more special than normal people. The definition itself is “the state of being celebrated” or “a celebrated person.” In the past, we celebrated them for their talent, hard work, or beauty. Because of one or all these things, celebrities were people we aspired to be like or to look like.

These days it seems like that sentiment has waned. The infamous I Take Responsibility video — which featured a bunch of celebrities pledging to take responsibility for stopping racism, microaggressions, and stereotypes — has an astounding ratio of 43,000 dislikes to 1,000 likes on YouTube. Similarly, the video of celebrities singing Imagine by John Lennon has 89,000 dislikes and only 8.8 thousand likes.

We’re supposed to elect people who understand the struggle of the everyman and who will fight for us.

We couldn’t take them seriously when they said “we’re all in the same boat” back at the beginning of the pandemic, or frankly, any other time. Some have multiple mansions they can retreat to, with pools, gardens, views — anything and everything that could allow someone to forget about the poverty, illness, and misfortune in the world. In the case of Meghan Markle, she garnered support and sympathy from celebrities just by alleging that the royal family was racist towards her (even though her own father contradicts the narrative). In the world of celebrities, victimhood is the new currency and they will never go through real-life struggles that affect the average person.

If we put politicians on the same level as celebrities, that’s very dangerous for the integrity of our nation. We’re supposed to elect people who are capable of knowing and understanding the struggle of the everyman and who will fight for us. Many politicians don’t, however, and the ones who are famous on the national stage are voicing opinions on how the entire country should be run, while not understanding the nuances that come with living in a rural area of the country, for example. For this new brand of celebrity-politicians, the cities are representative of the U.S. What does that say about the rest of the nation?

Closing Thoughts

When a celebrity-president calls the decisions of some state governors “Neanderthal thinking,” what does that say about the state constituents who are happy about those decisions? Instead of the criticism of these statements being celebrated — because for better or worse, the president should still represent the “Neanderthal” states — it’s condemned. Politicians can’t continue to speak like this, and they can’t expect to be treated like celebrities, if we want unity in this country and if we want people to be heard.

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