Ethan Sonneborn didn’t manage to win the closed primary elections of the Democratic Party in the American State of Vermont and qualify for the gubernatorial elections scheduled for November this year. He received 8 percent of the vote. However, he seems rather unfazed by this, since he’s already announced that he’ll be running in the following elections.
I agree, this news alone wouldn’t be of much interest to anyone except Vermont residents, of which there are slightly over 600,000, if not for a tiny detail. Namely, Ethan Sonneborn is 14 years old and he still doesn’t have the right to vote. This high school freshman took advantage of the legal option (many would say – loophole) that this federal state offers, which enables you to run for elections even if you don’t have the right to vote, provided that you’ve been a resident of Vermont for the past four years, and Ethan has been living in Vermont for 14 years.
Ethan explained that his decision to run in the elections was motivated by disappointment in current US politics and apathy among the youth and their lack of interest in dealing with vital social issues. And his program is quite serious, too – protecting human and civil rights, supporting environmental protection, strengthening LGBT equality, increasing investments in education, supporting entrepreneurship, and so on. Everything A-OK. But, let’s face it – Ethan made international headlines not because of his program, but because of his age. It’s safe to say that the candidacy of a 14-year-old would have been big news even ten, twenty, or fifty years ago, but it wouldn’t have spread as rapidly or as widely as it has today.
Naturally, one of the reasons for this is that all major communication platforms today are global, but the more important reason lies in the fact that the business of politics is a perfect match for the way these platforms work, and that it adapts to the new way of content distribution. All media strive to attract attention, but attracting attention within a limited number of media channels is much easier than in a world where everyone with a smartphone in their pocket is a media channel and when everything around us has become media content, making the amount of that media content virtually unlimited. In these circumstances, the content itself falls by the wayside, and the way of presenting particular content and whom it is being presented by, becomes the priority.
No wonder then, that a rising number of celebrities are trying their hand at politics, since politics have become a familiar turf for them, where they practically just continue their professional show business careers. So we have Cynthia Nixon, better known as Miranda of Sex and the City fame, running in the primary elections of the Democratic Party for the position of New York City Governor; despite the fact that she lost in these elections, she did win 35% of the party votes and we’ll definitely be seeing more of her in politics. Her media colleague, Oprah Winfrey, is already seen by many as a safe bet for the next US presidential elections. After all, doesn’t the current American president himself hail from the world of entertainment? And people still wonder why he hasn’t stopped entertaining us ever since he was elected. Oh, well…
And this phenomenon isn’t limited to America alone. Recently, after a convincing victory in the elections, Pakistan’s legendary cricket player and national star, Imran Khan, became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. One of the best football players that Europe had in the 90s, George Weah, is currently the president of his native Liberia. Italy’s current Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, had several TV show appearances when he was a teenager, and another Italian politician, Beppe Grillo, who founded his own political party, used to be a well-known comedian and actor before entering politics. There are some great examples from our neck of the woods, too – the new Slovenian Prime Minister, Marjan Šarac, also used to be a comedian. And as far as I can tell, these two won’t remain the only two comedians in politics.
In mentioning these names, I by no means wish to underestimate the talent and skills of other amateurs who entered politics from various other professions and went on to become successful politicians, making their mark on the political scene by acting and performing, thereby becoming true professional showmen. Politics have become an integral part of the entertainment industry and if you haven’t mastered the necessary knowledge and techniques, you can’t even be a part of them today, let alone succeed.
And lest I forget, in the elections in which Ethan Sonneborn took part, there were a total of four candidates, with Christine Hallquist winning a convincing 48 percent and becoming the official Democratic Party candidate for the upcoming elections. Prior to this, he was the successful manager of a local electricity company. Yes, he was the manager, because at the time he was still male. If she wins the November elections and everything points in that direction, she’ll make history as the first governor to publicly announce that she’d undergone gender reassignment surgery. However, she’s already famous – is there a better reason or a stronger motive for sharing this kind of news?
Make sure to keep up with the November elections for Vermont’s governor, and if “our” Christine wins, remember – you heard it here first! Who knows what you would’ve missed if I hadn’t let you in on all the drama. Don’t make me have to remind you.