During an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep took the opportunity to criticize President-Elect Donald Trump. A lot of people, unsurprisingly including Trump himself, have in turn criticized Streep for spouting off her political opinions at a (theoretically) non-political event.
But I, for one, found it refreshing. You see, I had begun to fear that leftist celebrities had forgotten how to question those in power. After eight years of gushing over Barack Obama there was reason to fear that the analytical capacity of Hollywood liberals had atrophied.
Obama – he who was at war every single day of his administration, who dropped more bombs on Middle Easterners than George W. Bush did, who expanded drone warfare tenfold, who allowed the NSA to collect the private information of Americans and then condemned the whistle blowers who exposed him – was largely immune from the criticism of celebrities during his eight year reign. Only honest liberals (like John Cusack) or libertarians (like Vince Vaughn) or conservatives (like Clint Eastwood) dared speak ill of the president. Now that a Republican is back in office, maybe things can get back to normal out there in Hollyweed.
That would be a manifestly positive development. Obama was the celebrity president. He was cool and hip and took the time out of his busy schedule to tell us what his March Madness picks were every year. When Kanye West upstaged Taylor Swift early in his presidency, Obama felt compelled to weigh in on the matter. Over and over again, pop culture told us that we needed to know what the president thought. Obama concurred. And I just sat there wondering why anyone should care.
But now that the decidedly uncool Trump is in office, maybe we can dispense with the idea that the president is some kind of cultural icon. Maybe leftists can go back to doing whatever it is that they do and stop holding up the president as some kind of demigod whose every opinion must be heard and revered. I must admit that the prospect of this is pretty exciting.
And, incidentally, it would be nice if conservatives resisted the urge to treat Trump the same way that liberals have treated Obama for the last eight years. When the Constitution was written and the Executive Branch was created, the founding generation explicitly rejected the idea that the president was as important to the cultural life of this country as European monarchs were to theirs.
The President of the United States is not a celebrity. He is an administrator of government. That job, given the current state of the nation, would seem big enough so as to preclude involvement in America’s social and cultural life (which, given the discrepancies in values across the nation, cannot appropriately be referred to in the singular).
I’m glad liberals like Meryl Streep have found their voices. Here’s hoping they don’t lose them the next time a Democrat is elected.