Point of View: The Grimm tale of politics and celebrity

By Nick Dean
Editor in chief

Once upon a time — in a time far, far away in the future — there is an American political sphere that cherishes realism and rationalism. After years upon years of praising the stunt politicians and media-attention seekers, Americans will use the power of their votes to force out the celebrities and usher in politicians that are actually real. It’s a fairy tale I daydream about — but I don’t think it’s far off.
Voters are exhausted. They are tired of the lies and the hyperbole. The major players in American politics aren’t real. They are like protagonists and antagonists in a highly dramatic, twisting piece of literature. Barack Obama plays the role of a struggling president hoping to bring much change but instead finds himself sitting idle, promising much and delivering little. He can’t please the furthest of the Left and he’s a socialist to most Republicans.
Nancy Pelosi is the wicked witch of the East. Politicians only use her name in two ways — to show that they are not like her or to show that their opponent voted for her. When someone attempted to dethrone her from the top of the party, she still managed to finagle her way to the top.
But the fairy tale isn’t contained to America’s Left. The Right has its stars. Sarah Palin, the Alaskan mother rallying fellow hockey moms to combat the Establishment and reclaim America for the family.
And we can’t forget Rush Limbaugh, the conspiracy guru who broadcasts drama from his radio lair for all the Right to hear. He’s on record as saying that he would have moved out of the country if Barack Obama won the presidency. (Obama won. Rush stayed.)
These are the characters of our current political situation. How did this happen? How did pragmatism slip away from the American public while hyperbole stole the spotlight? When did we begin to value celebrity over aptitude?
Nothing about the people influencing our policies seems real and I’m ready for that to change. Voters ought to reconsider the qualities we need in our nation’s leaders. A certain level of celebrity is inherent for the top leaders of our nation. But when is it enough? How many more TV shows? How many more media stunts?
Let’s take Palin for example. Far from insipid, Palin is an active topic in the news realm where she is in a constant battle with her nemesis, the media.
I wonder why she’s covered so much. It’s not like she was a vice presidential candidate in 2008. Or that her daughter just got third place on a B-grade TV show. Or that she just finished a weeklong series on TLC about her homeland of Alaska. Or that she just started a book tour for her recent release.
This problem isn’t just caused by the votes constituents cast. Journalists are partly to blame. News outlets need to recognize that perhaps Palin has staked her claim as the archenemy of the media just to get more attention. (Clearly, she made it into my column.) The truth though, is that Palin quit her public service job. She didn’t finish her governorship in Alaska. She hasn’t announced that she is running in 2012 yet. The only reason the media continue to cover her is because she rants about political issues on Facebook and her daughter has third-place dancing skills.
Palin has created her character perfectly and that false identity has sparked in me the urge for a more realistic, more beneficial political system. I am determined to seek out the true character of those wishing to be elected to serve the public. I want real people leading my country. I want the people that will work toward legitimate change, the candidates that care more about their constituents than press coverage. I want candidates that care.
And that may take awhile, but a guy can dream.
Nick Dean is a junior journalism and political science double major from Austin and the editor in chief of The Lariat.