Point/Counterpoint: Should the Polk County Democrats provide a platform to Cardi B?

Two columnists discuss whether or not the Polk County Democrats should have invited Cardi B to speak during her visit to Des Moines.

February 6, 2019

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Dems and Cardi B should be making ‘money moves …’ together

Whether Bronx-born Cardi B is dropping hit singles or feuding with hip-hop counterpart Nicki Minaj, one thing is certain: If she is around, you will hear her.

The 26-year-old gained media attention during President Donald Trump’s 35-day government shutdown — defending federal workers who weren’t receiving pay, which she did not approve of, according to a viral video.

She gained even more attention upon threatening to “dog-walk”  conservative TV and internet personality Tomi Lahren, who called the singer “moronic” and blasting said-video in what just might be one of  the strangest Twitter “beefs” I’ve seen to-date.

But Lahren apparently isn’t the only one who isn’t a fan of Cardi’s political hot takes, because when Iowa’s Polk County Democrats invited the rapper to speak at a May reception during her time in Des Moines, they got quite a few head tilts.

Say what you want about Cardi B’s political knowledge, or lack thereof — here’s the thing: She demands to be heard. Her viral internet lashing out against Trump and quick-witted response to Lahren are both prime examples.

She’s boisterous, she’s loud, and like Polk County Democrat Chairman Sean Bagniewski told NBC News, she “speaks to new activism in the Democratic Party.”

We saw this during the last election cycle: Young voters love excitement — something or someone who proposes radical ideas and enacts radical ways to achieve them (which could arguably be why a populist is in the White House, and why another populist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, achieved so much youth support).

My point being, if Cardi B engages young voters and encourages them to be civically involved, we have no reason to bash her or the Democrats in Polk County.

If anything, Iowa Democrats should thank the group for inviting the soon-to-be hip-hop icon to the party … and her money moves, too.

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Dems should use caution

On May 3, Cardi B will perform in Des Moines for the first time. Anytime anyone of any basic public notoriety or fame comes to Des Moines, it’s a huge thing, but Cardi B is actually a pretty big deal. So much so, that the Polk County Democrats have invited her to speak at any event that she’d like when she’s in town.

I thought I was living in a different dimension when I first heard Cardi B talking politics and even more so I saw that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., backed her up. Since that moment in early 2018, she has been far more vocal about a host of topics, ranging from racial injustice, the government shutdown, social security, even to dragging Tomi Lahren for her comments about ICE and 21 Savage. Cardi B has been quite outspoken.

When I heard about the invitation, I did a double take and laughed. It’s not that Cardi B can’t talk about politics or that she shouldn’t, it’s just not what she’s known for. Celebrities are consistently bashed for speaking out about issues that matter to them, as if they weren’t private citizens with the same rights as you and I. So with that notion, Cardi B shouldn’t be judged, but the Polk County Democrats might want to reconsider having her as a speaker. She can be problematic, and she caters to a very niche fan base. 

Being a Polk County native myself, I know Cardi B would draw crowds from across the spectrum, which many would see as a success. I’m wary to see implications of this so close to the next presidential election. Now, more than ever, the Democratic Party needs strong voices to revitalize and carry them to Election Day. Iowa has an important role during this season, and who the Democrats choose to champion their cause will have an effect. Cardi B may be young and opinionated, but she will fail to inspire the youth vote.

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