Don’t base votes on celebrity endorsements

Matthew White

It’s easy to fall into the trap of allowing celebrities to tell us what to think. When we see them in real life, it brings to mind the characters we admire — people we think are funny, good-looking and cool — and when they give us their opinions, it’s easy to trust them.

Take, for instance, Kal Penn, who appeared on campus last week to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. Now, taking nothing away from how much you may like him or how funny you may think he is, he shouldn’t form the bedrock of your support for Obama.

After all, Penn’s signature movie is about him smoking marijuana and visiting a fast food restaurant. This doesn’t qualify him as someone from whom you should take serious voting advice.

Instead, a much more valid way to determine who your candidate should be is to look at the votes he or she has cast while in office. And, since it’s pretty obvious by looking around campus that Obama is the most popular candidate, I think it’s important everyone know some of the votes he’s cast that will likely be glossed over by Penn’s popularity.

One place to find this information is, a Web site run by the SpeakOut Foundation. The foundation was founded by Jesse Gordon, who attended the Democratic National Convention in 2004. That means, it’s reasonable to assume he is sympathetic to the Democratic Party and not unfairly characterizing Obama’s stances on the issues.

According to the Web site, Obama voted against banning partial birth abortion in Oct. 2007 and said he trusts women to make their own decisions on partial birth abortion in April 2007. Even among people who support abortion rights, third-trimester abortions are troubling.

Other votes Obama has cast include voting no on a bill that would have required minors to notify their parents when they get an out-of-state abortion, voting no on a bill that would have declared English as the official language of the United States government and voting for a bill that limits gun purchases and increases restrictions.

Additionally, Obama has said its OK to interject sex into children’s lives when he said it’s all right to expose 6-year-olds to gay couples because they know about them already. But in reality, no 6-year-old should be worrying about sex, gay or straight. He supports affirmative action at colleges and universities, which is particularly unpopular here at Kent State. And, as a youth, he abused marijuana and cocaine.

For many self-identified liberal Kent State students, a lot of Obama’s positions may be extremely distressing. Or at least they should be. And being troubled by a candidate’s positions, statements and actions is a lot more honest way to determine how you should vote.

The point is: It’s easy to follow the crowd and pick the guy who seems to be the most popular, but that doesn’t make it the best path to take. Obama is easily the most popular politician on campus, but that doesn’t mean he should be.

Matthew White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].