Group Gordon’s Kate Macken outlines the power of celebrity in engaging voters and why these alliances should be taken seriously as we count down to Election Day.
When you think of Cardi B and her transformative role in American culture, you probably think of her chart-topping songs, historic Grammy win, and entertaining personality. Cardi’s vibrant character and massive following are gold not just for tabloids but across the media world, inspiring an incredible amount of coverage on topics ranging from her latest music releases to relationships with other celebrities, like with her husband Offset or her rival Nicki Minaj. However, in the last few years she has surprised some by getting more political, doing so at a time when celebrities are often written-off as clueless panderers anytime they stray from their craft.
Most recently, Cardi has chosen to promote Bernie Sanders as a candidate her followers should get behind. But she doesn’t just preach from the safety of her Twitter feed. This month, Bernie and Cardi launched a series of informal conversations in which they discuss political topics hand-picked by her followers. The conversations mirror Bernie’s work in his previous campaign with rapper Killer Mike, where the men addressed some of the most pressing issues of the 2016 election, such as racial injustice, healthcare, wealth inequality (and the billionaire class), and white supremacy.
In one of their recent conversations, at a nail salon in downtown Detroit, Bernie and Cardi discussed issues like the minimum wage, police brutality, and the student debt crisis. Despite the 50+ year age difference, Bernie and Cardi maintained an entertaining rapport. It’s clear Cardi speaks from the heart in these interviews, relating large-scale public policy back to her pre-celebrity life as a struggling Bronx native: “me as a New Yorker — not now, but you know, when I was not famous — I just felt like no matter how many jobs I get, I wasn’t able to make ends meet. I wasn’t able to pay my rent, get transportation, and eat.” She strikes the perfect tone, articulating in plain English problems everyday Americans also experience. And the effect is powerful – the videos have sparked thousands of positive comments on Cardi’s Instagram, with fans praising her work and appreciating her foray into politics.
The questions Bernie and Cardi tackle are much more accessible to the average American than what we see debated on major news networks by journalists and talking heads. Cardi’s insight illuminates these problems in a way that makes sense to everyone and opens up opportunities for Bernie to bring his message to life. Most Americans, especially those working two jobs and struggling to put food on the table, don’t watch 3 hours of Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC to get all of the news analysis of the day. Instead, they may turn to a quick scroll of their Facebook feed, which has limited journalistic integrity. What matters more than catching up on all the political news of the day is paying next month’s rent, or affording healthcare for their families. These are issues all Americans can get behind, and they’re what Cardi and Bernie discuss in an accessible format; they bring the focus back to “a regular, degular, smegular girl from the Bronx” like Cardi and other regular Americans.
Cardi B is sure to engage a young, diverse, and excited group of voters with this project. Her Instagram follower count is pushing 50 million, and it’s safe to say this content will find an attentive audience. No matter your thoughts on her celebrity, Cardi is using her platform to get the word out on Democracy and voting—and that’s something we should commend.