I don’t know it all, and proof of this is what I thought I knew would surely be the disappointment of huge sections of Kelly Clarkson’s fan base with her recent (albeit “unofficial”) endorsement of Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul. And let’s be specific. By “huge sections” I mean her Black and gay (and Black gay) fans. I’m not sure if Ms. Clarkson fully understands or appreciates the rare status she’s achieved. The inaugural American Idol winner scored legions of fans from both communities with a string of anthems that turned up the soulful vibe in ways atypical of contemporary pop stars.
Her lyrics of personal liberation and self-love seem to strike a chord among listeners who (in one way or another) have been made to feel less than – all delivered with a raspy soul that’s impossible not to sing along with. So imagine the outrage at her giddy celebration of Ron Paul’s candidacy – the same Ron Paul who is claimed to have pushed for the overturning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Well, the outrage is something that you might just have to imagine, because it doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, I’ve seen more endorsements of Ron Paul than I’ve seen of any other Republican candidate by those who claim not to typically vote for Republicans.
Paul has a message that a lot of folks relate to. For example, he states that his opposition to affirmative action is rooted in the idea that the practice relies on “racists believ*ing+ that all individuals who share superficial characteristics are alike.” He is also in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, because he believes that states should be able to recognize unions as they see fit. It’s clear to me how these ideas might resonate with progressives. They speak of the absurdity of racism, and they challenge the federal government’s right to infringe on sovereignty. In some ways, this is where Libertarianism and Social Progressivism overlap. But if you believe that racism and homophobia (absurd as they might) are very real and continue to affect many Americans in devastating (sometimes deadly) ways, then pretending that they don’t exist and not using the full force of the collective to eliminate disparities and protect those who are systemically and generationally disenfranchised isn’t an option. And this is the difference between the two philosophies.