Are politics ruling the days of our lives? Is such a question fair, given that we're gearing up for national elections, not to mention an impeachment? Even at that, politics looks to be too much with us when news of the National Medal of Arts - a prestigious prize awarded to performers, painters. patrons and writers - come with headlines about Trump, like this one from Newsweek: "Trump Awards National Medal of Arts To Jon Voight, Who Called' Him Greatest President Since Abraham Lincoln.'"

Art for art's sake

In the same story about the arts medal, Newsweek pointed out that a month before receiving the award, Voight tweeted a defense of Trump against impeachment: "This is a war against the highest nobleman who has defended our country, and made us safe and great again.

Let me stand with our president. Let us all stand with our President Trump in a time of such evil words trying for impeachment." Voight's tweet is notable, yes, but come on, he won the arts medal for acting, not advocacy for his second favorite Republican.

Repeat performance

Of course, the Voight example isn't a first when it comes to politics overshadowing arts awards. They often clouded these ceremonies. I'm thinking of Meryl Streep who ripped into Trump on receiving the 2017 Golden Globes award. News of her win came with headlines like this one from Billboard: "Meryl Street Slams Donald Trump in Golden Globes 2017 Speech."

Thanks, but no thanks

And besides artists using their awards to advocate for their partisan views, there are those who have rejected their awards for the same reason.

Coming to mind is composer, conductor Leonard Bernstein who refused to accept a National Endowment for the Arts award in 1989 because its grant to a theater production about AIDS was revoked. The poet Adrienne Rich also turned down an NEA award, saying that accepting it would be hypocritical given America's widening socio-economic gap.

I rush to say that politics has a place in the arts. After all, art is about life as we know it. But when does art ever get talked about in the public square if not at awards ceremonies? Certainly, celebrity is well-explored. Yahoo's headline for the Voight award made this clear: "President Trump awards Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts, Angelina Jolie skips the ceremony."

Doing it right

I accept that art is not a popular subject.

All I ask is is that when artists are honored for their achievements, the focus goes to that. To Newsweek's credit, in its report on the Voight medal, attention to art came when it was noted that he was selected "for his exceptional capacity as an actor to portray deeply complex characters. Captivating audiences, he has given us insights into the richness of the human mind and heart." Now, that's what I'm talking about.

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