The year 2018 has fostered an incredibly divisive and intense political climate in America. Most political and social issues, whether they be at the local, state, or federal levels, are met with fierce opinions on either end of the partisan spectrum. More so now than ever, people are speaking up about the causes they support, the policies they oppose, and how they believe our government should change at every level in order to improve the country's circumstances. Therefore, it's no surprise there is a sudden influx of celebrities expressing their political sentiments, including some celebrities that were never notably political before.
Celebrities are speaking up about issues, candidates, or policies that they feel warrant discussion and some are even choosing to run for political positions themselves. In some ways, this trend of celebrity political protests is nothing new; stars have been expressing their political views for decades, dating as far back as the beginning of Hollywood movie making. Now, however, the ubiquity of social media outlets like Twitter means celebrities can be more outspoken than ever, allowing them to partake in the widespread cultural discussion surrounding our political climate. From Chrissy Teigen to LeBron James, an unprecedented number of celebs are making their voices heard. Below is a list of famous people who got into politics this year. Be sure to vote on which ones have demonstrated a particularly dramatic increase in political involvement.
Known primarily for his role as Kane in the WWE, Glenn Jacobs announced his candidacy for Knox County mayor in April 2017. Jacobs, who successfully gained the Republican nomination, became even more political in 2018 after winning the election when he defeated his opponent two-to-one in August 2018.
Though he hasn’t officially ended his wrestling career, Jacobs utilized his athletic fame to boost his draw during his campaign. He cites the success of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of whom he considered to be “outside of the establishment,” as his motivation for choosing to run for office.
Birthplace: Vernon, Connecticut, United States of America
Profession: Television producer
3 more days to #NationalNightOut! The biggest neighborhood security event of the year is back on August 7, and I’ll be making a special appearance along with my friend @JamieSiminoff from @ring at one secret location. Can you guess where I’m gonna be? https://t.co/vu3adLhJ4y pic.twitter.com/2MDRr6GMaD— SHAQ (@SHAQ) August 4, 2018
Career-wise, famed basketball player Shaquille O’Neal has generally remained faithful to the world of sports, save for several forays into cinematic stardom. In May 2017, however, Shaq announced in an interview with 11Alive News that he would be running for Sheriff in 2020. While he did not specify where he would run, he has residences in in both Henry County, GA, and in Florida, either of which would qualify him for such candidacy.
In his interview, O’Neal also provided a somewhat unconventional answer when asked about his reasoning in this decision:
This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together. You know, when I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve.
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
Profession: Basketball player, Rapper, Television producer, Real estate entrepreneur, Film Producer, + more
While Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon has always advocated for political causes like legalizing same sex marriage and bettering public education, she took a deeper dive into politics in 2018 when she announced her candidacy for governor of New York in a tweet (above). Citing healthcare, mass incarceration, and the subway system as necessary points of change in the state, Nixon is already in the primary and could potentially end up the state's next governor.
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Profession: Actor, Voice acting
On October 7, 2018, Taylor Swift broke her notoriously silent political stance to post on Instagram, urging fellow Tennesseeans to vote Democrat in the upcoming midterm election. While Swift has never endorsed a political candidate - even during the controversial 2016 presidential election - her 2018 post admitted she has changed her mind about speaking out. She wrote,
I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.
Swift went on to urge voters to reject Marsha Blackburn - a Republican woman running for Senate, on the premise of Blackburn's "appalling" voting record against women's rights - and applauded the campaigns of Blackburn's Democratic opponents, including Phil Bredesen for Senate. "Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state," Swift said. "Vote based on who most closely represents your values."
As Time pointed out, "A number of her A-list friends — including Blake Lively, Karlie Kloss, Katy Perry and Chrissy Teigen — liked the post, suggesting they are supportive of her statement." Many on social media lashed back, however, decrying her post for everything from "too little too late" based on her previous silence, to politicizing pop music, to claiming representation for Black citizens.
Pundits immediately wondered if Swift's public influence would hold any sway over the election, and their answer was almost instantaneous: by Tuesday morning, October 9, just two days after Swift's rallying cry, Vote.org reported it had received an influx of 65,000 newly-registered voters between the ages of 18 to 29 in approximately 24 hours, superseding the combined total of every other age group within that time.
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Profession: Guitarist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Film Producer, Actor