It’s possible that by the time you are reading this, we know who is the Electoral College winner. If it happens to be a win for Joe Biden, I think there is an underrated side effect of that victory: a more culturally open White House.
Before I continue, let’s be very clear about some priorities a president should have. Those priorities should be on helping the American people. The president needs to be someone who can humbly look at the issues we face and make the policy decisions that work best for the people. This much should be obvious. If a President Biden were to fail in looking out for his constituents, nothing else matters. In that case, forget this column was ever written.
Assuming Joe (can I call you Joe?) is able to positively impact the country from a policy perspective, and I’m pretty confident that he will, we can go a little deeper and think a bit more about what other things a president can do with his power.
Take, for instance, what Barack Obama did during his time in office when it came to cultivating the arts. The opening track of “Hamilton” was performed in its infancy in the Obama White House during a poetry night. Later on, after the show took over the universe, the full cast visited and performed a larger set. The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song recipients, including Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, were hosted at the White House to perform. Every president until Donald Trump attended the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony without fail.
Over the past four years, we’ve been missing these instances in which politics and culture come together. It’s not like there isn’t time for this type of stuff in the presidential schedule, at least as it stands now. If Donald Trump can find the time to live-tweet “Fox & Friends,” I think some time can be put aside in order to give the arts a time to shine.
Even beyond entertainment, there’s been some things missing these past few years that I think put us a little closer to the president. Under Obama, we used to see how the president filled out his March Madness bracket in a television segment on ESPN. Before Trump, teams visiting the White House after winning a championship wasn’t much of a debate. It was widely seen as an honor. And when they got there, they were treated to more than the fast food buffet the Clemson football team got in 2019. There was actually a little bit of class involved with visiting the president.
I yearn for the time when a president could be visited and it was seen as an honor for the people visiting. There’s a certain sleaziness coming from the White House that has not kept up with traditions of honoring art and achievement.
If there is a President Biden, I first and foremost want him to serve well and serve diligently in the political sphere for the people. But if and when the work stops for a little, I hope he takes the opportunity to open the White House doors to those in the arts. When the most talented, gifted and inspiring people get to hang out in the White House, we all benefit.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at email@example.com.