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Celebrity and American Politics

September 27, 2017

A new book that I have begun asks if American democracy as it is presently constituted is the source of the many problems we face, or are “We the People” the problem?

Is the phenomenon of “celebrity” endemic to all democracies or just American democracy?

Is the power of celebrities due to our inability to discern greatness, character and virtue in ordinary citizens?

If an athlete excels in sport, we give value to him for skills unrelated to the sport that made him famous. Why is that?

Are the technologies that now shape the modern era–high speed computers, Internet browsers, broadcast and cable television, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–at fault for America’s “celebrity” culture?

Kim Kardashian, the many Rock and Punk musicians, television anchors, Televangelists and Talk Radio personalities that populate celebrity culture are influential, but is their influence consistent with civic order?

In recent memory, the State of Minnesota elected, a former wrestler, Jesse Ventura, as Governor and a comedian, Al Franken, as United States Senator. California has elected a vaudeville dancer, George Murphy, son of a heavy-weight boxing champion, John Tunney, to the U.S. Senate and sent a former movie star, Ronald Reagan, to the White House.

Yes, their names were immediately recognizable, but “name recognition” does not convey value; “celebrity” does. Is that why Donald Trump was elected our 45th President of the United States?

Speaking of celebrity Presidents, did Andrew Jackson become our 7th President of the United States because of his celebrity as a successful as Army General or his skill and knowledge of government?

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