“If You Are Married to a Trump Supporter, Divorce Them,” read a popular 2017 Harper’s Bazaar piece, one of a few recent columns offering similar advice.
But ideological purity—which, again, is now nearly to say moral purity—is not only being policed across party lines.
Strikingly, Musk has been one of the era’s rare public figures to try and enact the bygone ideal of “crossing the aisle.” The Tesla CEO clearly finds Trump distasteful, but he nonetheless joined two White House advisory committees after the election, which prompted noisy criticism.
“The more voices of reason that the President hears, the better,” he told “Simply attacking him will achieve nothing.” It’s a theory that under most other presidents wouldn’t have been controversial.
Which is rooted in a larger idea: that one’s personal life is political, and that one’s politics are directly tied to one’s moral character.
That clamor raises an all-too-familiar question: Who cares what a famous person does in their private life?
But the celebrity realm is, as with all shifting norms, a place where the increasingly urgent questions around guilt by association are being tested, crudely.
Those are old ideas, but they’ve come to be taken for granted in our allegedly woke zeitgeist—which has, of course, partly been shaped by figures like Grimes proudly linking their values, art, and lives. Of course, people have always wanted their partners to share their deepest convictions.
“I’m sad that it’s uncool or offensive to talk about environmental or human rights issues,” she wrote in a widely shared (then deleted) 2013 Tumblr post titled “I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living.” Musk is unaligned with her. But for better or worse—and there are strong arguments that it’s for the better when racism, xenophobia, sexual assault, fascism, and the fate of the planet are at issue—those desires appear to be increasingly litigated in blunt political terms nationwide.