The celebrity fallacy: in defense of Yang

First of all, if you’re reading this: thank you.

The response to my article yesterday on Andrew Yang and the bad faith mindset of American voters has been overwhelming, and as of my first drafting this post the webpage has received a total of 378 views.

Yowza! Photo: Trey Sorensen

While I  do know that this would be a ridiculously low metric of success considering the audiences of some other, more popular leftist personalities (which, sadder still, are dwarfed in the face of some of the most popular conservative ones), any engagement at all that people have with my work is incredibly flattering! But, I gotta admit:

It could be pretty bad for my ego.

All thanks to you, dear reader, I have been endowed with a great sense of some celebrity! I am reaching out and getting through to you! Whether you mean to or not (or even if I really mean to or not!), my thoughts, my opinions and my ideas have had some sort of impact on you.

And, in many ways, influence

Uh oh. The morals of my position are now beginning to darken, and a few goal-targeted wires are now being crossed. If impressing and making an impact on you the reader proves to be  a profitable venture for my success, then I may now just say whatever I can that will get your attentionincluding telling you only what you want to hear.

Not because I really mean it. Oh no. I’ll do it because I know that at least it will get you to like me. I would be using my status to meet my own ends, not our shared interests. It would be me, then, not Andrew Yang or the American voter, that would be acting in bad faith.

But that, of course, is not why I’m doing this. As I already  mentioned, I just wasn’t expecting the kind of response my article had gotten. I hadn’t written it because I knew it would get me views, but because it was something I believed to be true, something that I thought had some good in it. I wrote that article because I thought it could be one of the ways I can make the world a better place.

I wrote last time on America’s systemic and sometimes unwarranted distrust of political figures, and in light of the ideas that I’ve just put forth, I’d be willing to level with you: if I knew that a person was being nice to me only because it filled the narcissistic holes in their heart and NOT because they actually wanted to help me, then, yes, I would totally, absolutely and wholeheartedly not trust that person.

But, again, that would require some absolute certain knowledge of that person acting manipulatively for solely their own benefit and, as I mentioned last time, I just don’t think Yang has presented any such reason. In fact, he’s done otherwise. There just simply isn’t any evidence of malfeasance.

Andrew Yang, pretty cool guy. Photo: @AndrewYang

Except, maybe, in the presence of his own sense of celebrity.

If I have already demonstrated that some individuals might pursue their audiences only as a means to their own ends, then could the fact that Yang has such a sizable following work as proof that he is a flawed candidate for mayor of New York City?

No. At least, I don’t think so.

You see, I think drawing a conclusion in that sort of way would be fallacious thinking. Let’s call it the “celebrity fallacy” or, more in line with tradition, the fallacy of celebrity, itself a Socratic fallacy (“Is Corsicus not different from Socrates?”). Some celebrities are bad people and bad leaders. Andrew Yang is a celebrity. Therefore, Andrew Yang is a bad person.

Wrong. I tell you that Andrew Yang is a good man, and he works toward good causes. It is possible to be both a celebrity and a good person, and to think otherwise is logically flawed. Therefore, I say, Andrew Yang’s celebrity, above any other criticisms, should not be his ultimate disqualifier for holding office.

I have written this article in response to some of you who replied as such to my work yesterday, and any who might think it still. It is my hope that I might change your mind, for the better.

This shouldn’t be enough to discredit Yang. Photo: Trey Sorensen

I should also write that, similar to the fallacy of celebrity, there is the fallacy of inexperience. This is what happens when you have ignorant white women getting on national television and telling the most prominent voices of the oppressed to “shut up and dribble.” Because LeBron James has, ostensibly to Ingraham, not been a victim of systemic racism, then he has no right to speak on such matters. That, too, is wrong.

Rejecting Yang the politician because he is also Yang the celebrity is similar to the bad takes of Ingraham. Photo: Fox News

Dear reader I am writing to you from my perspective as an American, where I and others of my ilk are instructed at an early age to be active citizens in our democracy. And that can take many forms: from making statements to the media, to volunteer and professional activism, to holding elected office. Each one of us is a citizen, in different ways, always.

This, of course, goes beyond Yang. If we were to disregard for a moment the fact that she holds two degrees, then it would be just as flawed for us to dismiss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “just a waitress before she got to Congress,” that her occupation and life before holding office should deny her any legitimacy simply because, well… one day long ago she wasn’t a politician! Each and every American citizen is a politician far before they are ever (if they are ever) elected to office. 

I want to tell you on this Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dear reader, that we must not allow ourselves to be reductionist. Abiding by fallacies like the ones I have put forth might have even, wrongly and perhaps to our misfortune, denied us the leadership of Dr. King. There could be many fair criticisms to weigh against our potential leaders whose implications should prevent them from working full-time with that much power.

But I tell you it should NOT be just one thing, not just the mere fact that they are a celebrity, that should deny them their influence.

It must be a pattern, a series of displays of poor judgement and questionable moral behavior.

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