Miss America Pageant Politics Worries Pivotal Past Contestant

While the spotlight is currently on the politicization of the NFL and the chaos that liberal politics is bringing to the sports world, Project 21 is making sure that people understand liberal influences are similarly threatening the footlights of the Miss America pageant.

In a new Washington Times commentary, Project 21 member Day Gardner – a defining figure in pageant history – warns that the politicization of America’s “girl next door” could have a disastrous effect on the legacy of the Miss America Organization and its positive impact on our culture.

Day was the first black contestant to make it to the Miss America semifinals, thus fully integrating the pageant in front of a live national audience.  Within six years, the first black Miss America was crowned.

Mentioning the struggles she overcame to get that far at that time, Day notes in the Times that “[r]ace is no longer an impediment.  Politics, however, seems to be a new barrier to advancement.”

Day points out that current-events questions posed to semifinalists this year (not a part of the pageant in 1977, when she was Miss Delaware) were obviously crafted to allow for criticism of President Donald Trump.  She also describes how abortion and same-sex marriage issues have mixed with pageant politics during previous years.

More importantly, Day fears changing pageant priorities could diminish the title’s prestige and the institution of Miss America:

[T]he pageants of my day placed value in morals and tradition over a pretty face.  A good reputation, as Vanessa Williams found out, was a requirement to wear the tiara as the goodwill ambassador for young American women.

This formula worked.  Over the years, the Miss America Organization raised millions for charity.  It created educational opportunities for women.  Former winners championed causes such as ending homelessness and domestic abuse as well as humanitarian causes around the world.  USA Today called it one of the last vestiges of true Americana.

But I fear liberal pressures threaten the pageant’s future. Andrew Breitbart noted that “politics is downstream from culture,” and the co-opting of Miss America appears well underway.

There’s a lot to be lost by turning the pageant into a cultural playground of the radical left.  The Miss America title may someday no longer fit.  When will a divorcee demand to compete?  When will they drop gender roles altogether and open the pageant to those who choose their own gender or claim no gender whatsoever?

To back up such an assertion, Day mentions how the liberal direction of the Girl Scouts in recent years has both tarnished the group’s image and led to the creation of several alternatives.

“The politicization of Miss America will only further polarize us,” Day warns.  “Instead, we should be embracing and celebrating our shared goals.  That is the role Miss America has played so well.”

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.