Trump will be 'Stronger' by using Kanye and celebrity pals to spread message
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President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Giving thanks for Thanksgiving itself Immigration provision in Democrats' reconciliation bill makes no sense MORE was full of surprises during his campaign, and has been just as unpredictable since winning the election. On Tuesday the media went into a frenzy after rapper Kanye West appeared at Trump Tower for a brief meeting with the president-elect. A Trump aide has confirmed that West will not be performing at the inauguration.

So why, then, did Trump meet with the rapper at a critical time while he’s stacking his cabinet?

For decades, Democrats have utilized a machine that is uniquely American and compulsively entertaining: pop culture. Just look at President Obama — during and after his own campaigns, he teamed up with Beyonce, Jay Z, Eva Longoria, Katy Perry, and others in different capacities.


Schmoozing with celebrities allowed Obama to make himself palatable and appealing to demographics like the millennial generation. It made him the likable King of Coolness. Obama was the kind of president who seemed easygoing and fun to hang out with — regardless of whether or not you agreed with his politics.

But when it comes to pop culture, Republicans generally just don’t get it.

There’s a reason why most young people wouldn’t dare call themselves a Republican on college campuses. Being aligned with the GOP just isn’t cool. It’s social suicide. Politics is largely about intelligent branding. When a voter supports a candidate, they’re also embracing that candidate’s brand.

As young voters continue to lose trust in politics-as-usual in Washington, D.C., there’s no better time for the GOP to shed its reputation of being out-of-touch and old. And now that Trump has won the White House, he is uniquely positioned to make GOP’s messages of limited government and personal responsibility appealing to voters who don’t already consider themselves Republicans. Leading this charge could have lasting effects, allowing the GOP to remain strong long after Trump leaves office.

While most of the GOP’s most permanent and visible fixtures — people like George W. Bush, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE, and Mitt Romney — have helped cement GOP’s reputation as being the geriatric party of yesterday, Donald Trump is different. He can use pop culture in ways that no other Republican has, because he’s been a celebrity for decades.

Trump was the host of The Apprentice; there’s a Trump board game; his name is plastered in gold in most major U.S. cities. And when you go to the supermarket, you’ll probably him on the tabloids right next to the Kardashians.  

In the past, Republicans have struggled to forge partnerships with celebrities, who fear career damage by “coming out” as a conservative. But as a pop culture fixture himself, and the host of Celebrity Apprentice for seven years, Trump already has relationships with many A-listers.

Why wouldn’t the president-elect utilize his celebrity status and his famous friends? Not only would this help transform the Republican Party into a more embraceable brand, it would also allow Trump’s platform to be spread in unique and unconventional ways.

Trump has made it clear that he has an open mind and is willing to work with anyone — even his most ardent critics like Romney — to fix the country and get things done. He may see a unique opportunity with Kanye West, who he has been friends with for years.

One cornerstone of Trump’s campaign was to fix the inner cities. To do that, he’ll need spokespeople who can make his message of limited government resonate in places like Baltimore, Chicago, and even New York, where many voters are hostile towards and distrusting of Republicans.

Kanye West, who grew up in Chicago with a single mother, is already respected in the inner cities for his work as a music artist.West’s fans may not trust Trump, but if his message is coming from somebody they already respect, they’re more likely to listen. West can inspire communities and show how policies like lower corporate taxes and school choice will lift up the inner cities.

Hopefully, Kanye West is just the beginning. Trump could utilize many of his other celebrity friends like Scott Baio, Adam Carolla, Stacey Dash, and Tom Brady to spread his message as well.

For the GOP to survive long term, it must reach new demographics by trying fresh, out-of-the-box strategies. Since Ronald Reagan, the GOP has been desperate for a leader who can expand the Party’s base and forge strong relationships with non-traditional conservatives.

Republicans finally got the leader they need. So why aren’t they enthusiastically embracing Trump?

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It."
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