Today I’m sharing a very interesting Guest Post on “The Age of Celebrity Politicians”, by Wayne Avrashow, author of “Roll the Dice”. The book was released on 28th November.
About the book:
What happens when one of America’s biggest rock stars leaves the Las Vegas stage to run for the United State Senate?
The ultimate celebrity candidate, Tyler Sloan is no stranger to politics – his estranged father was a California governor who narrowly lost a Presidential campaign. He runs as a political independent, refuses campaign contributions, and dismisses special interests and lobbyists.
Sloan is caught in a political campaign fraught with sexual scandal, corruption and conflicting loyalties. Will he be able to navigate through political turbulence and his own past to win the race?
Guest Post: The Age of Celebrity Politicians
Celebrities in politics began with General George Washington and continued with a parade of military leaders/Presidents: Jackson, Grant and Eisenhower. These leaders relied on their fame, achievements and public appreciation. It was easy to “Like Ike” after the grandfatherly Eisenhower commanded the troops to victory in World War II. It was so easy that leaders from both parties courted him to campaign for their party’s nomination.
The 20th century spawned the concoction of a new formula for celebrities—athletes and movie stars: Jack Kemp, football quarterback/Congressman/1996 GOP Vice-Presidential nominee; NBA star/New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley; California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. The parade continues with Minnesota Senator/Saturday Night Live star Al Franken who is on every short list of 2020 presidential candidates.
In my novel Roll the Dice, the main protagonist rock star Tyler Sloan, exits the stage to campaign for the United States Senate. Befitting a rock star, Sloan conducts an unconventional campaign and runs as an independent, not as a Democrat or Republican.
The novel details how Sloan’s celebrity status propels his campaign. He begins the campaign with high name ID, his fortune allows him to self-fund his campaign, his rallies draw overflow crowds compared to the smaller gatherings of his pedestrian opponents, and he is warmly recognized when he appears at local coffee shops or baseball batting cages. Sloan’s celebrity is the great equalizer to match the vast organizations and tens of millions of dollars spent by the Democratic and Republican parties to boost their candidates.
Two of the main criteria of political campaign success are being well-known and well-funded. This applies to a campaign for the presidency or for a City Council seat in Cincinnati, Ohio. Celebrities are instantly known and do not need to allocate a dime to establish their name.
Social media will certainly accelerate this celebrity/politician trend in the 21st century. Social media targeting data allows any candidate to effectively reach their audience. The celebrity has the built-in advantage to maximize the strategy by relying on their already established, vast number of followers on social media.
Barack Obama has nearly 100 million Twitter followers. While impressive, the former president trails Justin Bieber. Evidently more people want to hear what the Beebs has on his mind. Both trail Katy Perry’s 120 million followers; she is the King of the Twitter Hill. Putting this in perspective, the Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio recently cracked over one million followers.
After winning the New Hampshire primary, Bernie Sanders asked for contributions of “$10, $20 or $50.” In 24 hours, he raised $8 million. At one point, he had over four million individual donors with an average contribution of $27. Imagine Katy Perry or other celebrity reaching out on social media to their pool of millions of followers and supporters. In Roll the Dice, Tyler Sloan limited campaign contributions to $100. How would Bruce Springsteen’s or Jay Z’s fans respond? You can scale it down for lesser names and lower offices, but the point remains, celebrity status coupled with the reach and impact of social media can produce powerful political results.
About the author:
Wayne Avrashow was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky.
His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns.
Wayne is a practicing attorney who specialises in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms. As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications. In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys.