Remember That Time A Democrat Used A Sex Worker To Become President?
On Bernie Sanders, Cardi B, and 2020
When Bernie Sanders turned stripper-turned-rapper Cardi B into a Presidential campaign advocate, he likely unknowingly unlocked a Pandora’s Box of wild possibilities regarding the legitimacy of sex work in America. Pair this with Donald Trump’s kinky times spent with Stormy Daniels becoming a 2016 Presidential campaign issue, and here we are. Long gone are the days where Marilyn Monroe was John F. Kennedy’s willfully unreported secret mistress hidden in a clandestine White House closet. Now, people with well documented careers as kink-friendly sex workers are being used to engage potential Democratic party voters and swing party’s nomination towards the nearly octogenarian United States Senator from Vermont. Even if it’s an unsuccessful move, it has still created the possibility for potentially so much more.
Sex and its relationship to the American Presidency have had a storied, notorious union. However, as of late this coupling has exploded into something much greater, intriguing, and perhaps precedent setting for a deep relaxation of sexual hyper-morality in the country. From Thomas Jefferson impregnating his slave Sally Hemmings to presidents in every century -- John Adams, Warren Harding, and Bill Clinton included -- all having well-documented and quite scandalous relationships with women, there’s a precedent that was set for what is occurring at present.
Cardi B is not unlike many in the sex-work industry who parlay hand-to-mouth wage-earning into cash-first comfort, and then a level of infamous appeal that allows for short-term mega celebrity. It is extraordinarily rare, however, that a sexualized superstar has, like Cardi, been able to transcend the infamy-to-mega appeal vacuum. She has now reached a level of pop cultural renown that makes her both a Billboard chart-topping pop music star and now, a political supporter.
The moment that we desexualize even former sex workers and add legitimate political credence to their concerns for equal rights, we also open a now destigmatized Pandora’s box in regards to general civil rights and freedoms that is intriguing and important to consider. America is a country that is largely driven, insofar as our collective social morality, by a very Christian-first understanding of how we lead our lives. In this construct, sex workers are stigmatized as either Mary Magdalenes cured of demonic plagues, or Whores of Babylon known as “the mother of prostitutes and abominations of the Earth.”
While there is no official confirmation, it’s entirely logical to believe that Bernie Sanders’ August 14th interview with Cardi B regarding wages, unions and jobs that then evolved into a full-fledged Instagram post and appeal for young people to vote, was a paid advertisement opportunity. And yes, as her 2017 hit single “Bodak Yellow” notes, the rapper born Belicalis Almanzar no longer dances for her primary income, “she makes money moves.”
Here’s some math to back up why Cardi was likely paid handsomely for her support: Cardi has nearly 1300% more Instagram followers than Sanders does. Thus, if we view Bernie Sanders as a Presidential candidate as a brand looking for cross-cultural appeal, let’s note that Fashion Nova reportedly paid Cardi $250,000 to be an influencer in 2018. Cardi has 285% more followers now than she did last year. Thus, if inflation of market values holds firm, Cardi’s support is worth at least $750,000, at minimum.
The second that you pay someone with a background in sex work nearly $1 million to ideally ensure that you have a fighting chance to become President of the United States, everything in relation to how America should view sex work and sex workers forcibly changes. Most importantly, the veneer of shame surrounding sex work in America begins the process of being definitely altered.If/when Sanders gains the Democratic nomination for 2020, it will definitely be related to Cardi’s supporters getting on the Sanders bandwagon. In 2016’s two candidate race that featured a level of Democratic Party skullduggery, Bernie Sanders earned the support of 43% of Democratic primary voters. At present, Bernie Sanders is polling at a solid 19% in what could easily end up being a five-candidate race. This literally means that a two-to-five percent swing of fans of a sex-worker-turned-rapper-turned-political advocate would ultimately have altered the future of American politics and life.
Though to many Cardi B’s interview with Bernie Sanders may have seemed a benign, yet entertaining event, it was ultimately more. It’s a precedent-setting moment that opens the possibility for the space to exist where the paradigm shift related to how America views sex, sex work, and sexual freedom to exist. On a social level, the gears are already shifting. From a political standpoint with a direct social appeal, there exists the root for, if successful, sexualized Americans to be intrinsically important to a future wherein much of how America forms its modern morality is radically changed. Cardi B doesn’t dance anymore. She makes money moves. If a sex worker hopeful for greater rights, respect, and revenue in America, be thankful that this is the case.