Monday, October 15, 2007

On Hollywood Republicans

Kyle's comment the other day about Fred Thompson being representative of a number of Hollywood Republicans in elected office (Thompson, Eastwood, Schwarzenegger, Reagan, Sonny Bono) or running for elected office got me thinking a little bit. It is certainly fairly anomolous that there are so many (comparatively) Republican politicians with deep Hollywood backgrounds, and so few Democrat politicians with similar backgrounds (only Al Franken comes to mind).

One possible explanation for this, I think, is that Democrats are able to take most of Hollywood's substantial financial support for granted. Republicans, on the other hand, cannot. Since Hollywood has a huge amount of potential campaign money, as well as a lot of ability to create more subtle influences on politics (through movies, tv shows, high-profile endorsements, etc.), Hollywood is a valuable resource that cannot be ignored by either party. Since Republicans have a rather small overall presence in this community, it makes sense for them to put forward candidates with Hollywood backgrounds in order to get at least a little bit of the Hollywood pie. Otherwise, you could argue that Republicans would be almost entirely shut out of that pie.

It occurs to me that the Democrats may face a similar dilemma (historically) with the wealthier business interests (and the obviously massive pie they represent). As a result, do they tend to run more corporate businesspeople? I don't know if there's a good way of putting together reliable data on this, but an extremely quick and cursory perusal of prior careers of Members of Congress seems to argue in favor of my completely speculative theory. At the very least, there are far more Dems with big business backgrounds than you would expect if you looked solely at voting and contribution habits.