On the night of January 5th, the Georgia senate runoff election was closing in, and most major news sources were calling that Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock had won. However, the person who was receiving the most praise that night was a woman by the name of Stacey Abrams. In addition to raising $6 million for the runoff election, Stacey led a huge voter registration effort, helping to register more than 800,000 new voters. To show their gratitude, her supporters flocked to social media. Some users circulated fancams. Popular liberal activist Charlotte Clymer even told her 300k followers that the Atlanta Falcons should sign Stacey as a quarterback. The message of the night was that Stacey Abrams is an inspiration to anyone who loves democracy.
As a young child, I used to be the type of person who admired politicians. In school, we were taught that politicians were heroes, who took on the hard job of advocating for the people. Seeing Barack Obama get elected gave me hope for the future. I dreamed of possibly entering the political stratosphere, maybe even becoming the White House Press Secretary one day. But as I got older, the facade ended for me. Last summer’s BLM protests really opened my eyes after seeing many politicians condemning the protests, prioritizing property and police over the people they are supposed to protect. Even Obama, a man I used to look up to, managed to convince NBA players to stop their meaningful protest against the racist system. I realized that most, if not all politicians are corrupt.
Although some politicians come in with good intentions, hoping to make substantial change, they often end up succumbing to brown-nosing and corporate ambition. Stacey Abrams is one of those politicians. Sure, no one can doubt that she played a huge role in turning Georgia blue, but Stacey is no saint. When news broke that President Joe Biden, who had been accused of sexual assault, was possibly considering Abrams to be his vice president, in an interview she said, “The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden,” essentially dismissing his history of sexual assault.
Stacey also accepted $5 million from the former mayor of New York and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Mike Bloomberg, and defended his excessive campaign spending. Mike Bloomberg has been called racist by many due to leaked audio of him defending stop and frisk laws. Bloomberg also has faced many accusations of misogynistic behavior and has been accused by over 17 women of using crude language in his offices that promoted a toxic work environment. To me, this shows that she is willing to turn a blind eye to injustice in order to get ahead.
Similar to Stacey, Sen. Jon Ossoff is another politician who is widely loved by his supporters. In his older tweets, you’ll find Ossoff using gamer slang, and in old college videos, you can see him fanboying over Star Wars, Anime, and GTA. This widened his appeal to Gen Z especially, who view him as not only one of the most progressive politicians today but also a regular guy who we can relate to.
Typing up “Jon Ossoff Stan” on Twitter will lead you down a rabbit hole of his fancams and stan accounts. What his stans fail to realize though is that Jon isn’t very progressive at all. In a recent HBO interview, Jon Ossoff denounced most progressive policies such as the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and Defunding the Police.
For the supporters of these politicians, it might make you uncomfortable to hear me criticize them so harshly. You might even feel angry. These emotions are just the outcome of the toxic parasocial relationships that politicians seek to create. Politicians want to come off as relatable–they want to be your friend. Some examples of this include Alexandria Ocasio Cortez playing Among Us with popular gamers, Joe Biden hiring battle rappers to encourage people to vote, and Elizabeth Warren drinking beer and answering policy questions on Instagram Live. And when people criticize your friend, you’re bound to get defensive. Some people even see their favorite politician as an extension of themselves, so when that politician is criticized, they defend them as if they were defending themselves.
The idolization of politicians isn’t anything new. In the 2016 election, a term was coined for the stans of candidate Bernie Sanders, “The Bernie Bros,” who were notorious for attacking anyone that criticizes their precious candidate, even if the criticism is warranted. The danger of idolizing politicians is that it puts them on a pedestal where they can never do anything wrong. That allows the politicians to basically do whatever they want and still remain in the public’s favor.
The truth is that it doesn’t take much for public opinion to sway in your favor. That’s why President Barack Obama can wear a snazzy suit at the Biden Inauguration and people will forget that he bombed innocent people in the Middle East. That’s why former President Bush and Michelle Obama can cuddle up next to each other and people will fawn over them, despite the fact that Bush started the War on Terror, and was literally on vacation while the Black and poor population of New Orleans were receiving the consequences of Hurricane Katrina. That’s why all Joe Biden has to do is hire a diverse cabinet for people to forget that he created the 1994 crime bill which had disastrous effects on the Black community that is still being felt today.
Many of us find comfort in these small acts because it makes us believe that politicians are just like us when in reality they’re not. Politicians are public servants, not celebrities. Treating them as such removes them from the importance of their responsibilities. Frankly, we should be demanding more from our representatives, and we can’t do that when people allow themselves to be clouded by performative nonsense. I can’t wait for the day when people stop simping for politicians.