Before leaving for a brief sojourn through South America, I noticed something troubling on the news. On one channel, hordes of photographers followed Britney Spears around snapping shots of her every move while she was out and about somewhere in LA or New York. Bored with the usual pop drivel, I flipped to Fox News and there was a very similar scene of flashing bulbs and a legion of paparazzi.
But Fox News was not covering Britney Spears, they were covering Alaska's Governor, Sarah Palin. The scenes were almost identical, both women were being swarmed by countless reporters--every move being photographed.
This type of celebritization of political identities is not just a problem for Palin though. Our soon-to-be President Barack Obama is widely treated like a celebrity and was even criticized about it by the McCain camp in a very successful campaign advertisement. At moments, Obama's campaign (and McCain's for that matter) seemed to craft Hollywood-esque scenarios to capture the attention of the audience...the voters.
When elections become nothing more than popularity contests and public persona is more important than policies and principles, democracy suffers.