Any day now, this democratic nation of ours, this republic of checks and balances, will flex our most valuable asset. The right to vote. Some of us will shrug our shoulders and others will relent to the pull of party affiliation and behave accordingly. Most of us however, won’t engage so hard. We discuss it but not in any substantial context until, err, right about now. Mid to late September. After the conventions and the convention spinsters have run out of talking points from which to bang on our hands. Now it gets fun, now the stakes become identifiably high. Additionally, here comes the celebrity endorsers. The people who normally show little interest in the political arena, all of a sudden, become political ambassadors. Is it bandwagon related? Slick promotional work? Is it cynical to wonder why they are involved? Sure, but that doesn’t mean its non-sense. Doesn’t mean they are not politically astute. Nor does it mean it isn’t newsworthy.
The clear star at the Republican Convention in Tampa was not Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, nor his running mate Paul Ryan. Clint Eastwood walked away with the most buzz after his skit when he had a conversation with an invisible President Barack Obama.
And over the four days in Tampa, if you watched the convention on TV you saw a contrived effort to point out the brown people represented by the GOP. Besides former Presidential candidate Herman Cain, the wide shot of the cameras proved that the place was filled with…hmmm, how should I put it? White people.
In Charlotte for the Democrat National Convention, the same contrived effort to prove diversity was apparent. Here's the difference, as cameras panned the crowd, there was proof that if nothing else, the Democrats are the party where all are welcome…to at least attend the convention. You saw Muslims and Jews, gays and disabled war heroes, Hispanics and, of course, black people. From the delegates to the speakers on stage, it seemed everyone was represented. To bring that point home, Democrats had their share of celebrities…and most of them were brown. Ethnic stars took part in panels, speeches and even musical performances. Actors such as Wendell Pierce and Alfre Woodard were sighted frequently. To close the final night of the convention, Mary J. Blige belted out two songs, before the President gave his acceptance speech.
TSL will occasionally chime in on the latest political developments and proceedings, adding our ten cents (we decided that two cents wouldn’t sufficiently satisfy) to the pressing discussions. For our first venture we cornered celebrity operatives Common, Rosario Dawson and Eva Longoria as asked them what the DNC means to them.
“When I get to tell people that I’m going down for the DNC to be a part of this, it’s something for an artist to be a part of something that’s dealing with affecting the world. Music does affect the world. It sooths, it entertains, it inspires, but politics has a direct effect on people and our conditions. So for me to be able to be a part of this, it’s something I am proud to do.”
“I grew up in a family that is incredibly outspoken. I was raised to believe that what I had to say was important.”
When asked when did politics become important to her, she said that she’s always been an activist. In 2004 she co-founded “Voto Latino”. Voto Latino is an initiative that empowers American Latinos to claim a better future by voting and bring their voices into the political process.
“It’s actually coming to DC and actually being involved in the correspondents’ dinners. It’s been really amazing to be at the RNC four years ago and the DNC now, and to see people’s energy and how they’re engaging and I learn so much by being here. And I’m a story teller and I get to share it with other people and its vitally important sometimes that information, so I’m grateful that I get to be here.”
“I’m going to take advantage of all the people here and so when we walk away, we can have takeaways. That’s what we need, takeaways, not a bunch of great speeches. Are you all talk? Or did something happen? This is an opportunity to make some of these things happen and action from these events.”
Actress Eva Longoria spoke on the main stage during the final night of the DNC. She is a co-chair for the Obama re-Election campaign.
“My presence is being a surrogate, mobilizing voters to be literate about the policies and things that will affect them.”
On a recent episode of PBS “Faces of America” Longoria opened up about her family’s history in the US. The Longoria’s roots in Texas run back to a time before Texas existed. Lorenzo Longoria, Eva’s first ancestor to arrive in the New World, sailed from Spain in 1603. The actress says feels deeply connected to what happens in politics.
“I speak to two communities, specifically as a co-chair, which is the women’s community and the Hispanic community.”
She also addresses the question as to why the two parties are now using celebrities to help spread their messages.
“I don’t think celebrities impact politics. I think Americans and citizens impact politics. Being an actress is what I do. But who I am is an American. Who I am is a Hispanic. And those are things that drive me.”