There was a time when becoming a publicly elected official in the United States required some sort of experience, or at least accredited capabillities as determined by a vouch from a higher ranking official or masters degree. We required some sort of confidence in our candidates engendered by more than charisma and recognition based trust. It seems this is no longer a defintive requirement. While we are still quick to require more extensive and veritable experience in a national candidate's qualifications than two years as Governor of Alaska, Minnesota put their trust in a former wrestler to rule the state and Californians elected an Austrian born Governor best known for trying to eliminate the human race as a cyborg assassin. This is not to say that these men have not been respectable representations of their states, but there is a clear theme in democratic voting. It is not a coincidence that the Obama election campaign is now being used as a case study on millennial marketing. The upcoming generation of voters responds to this kind of messaging because viral marketing is all they know. And this is not just in the US.
In India, the world's largest democratic nation, the public must elect their Parliamentary representatives tomorrow. In a few states, the most relevant experience of one of the candidates, Shekhar Suman, is interviewing politicians on a late night talk show. His main opponent, Shatrughan Sinha, has served two terms in the appointed upper house of Parliament, but draws a crowd more excited, "to see [a movie star] up close" than listen to him speak about the many issues facing the growing population. While attendance to rallies has not yet translated to marking ballots, this trend in faith of the familiar is still on an upswing internationally.
Sometimes these leaps of faith workout. While Jesse Ventura held office for only one term, Schwarzenegger experienced some favorable successes during his first term and, despite political backlash, was re-elected for a second. Just because people begin as celebrities does not mean they will be poor politicians or do not care about important issues. However, just because they are the most familiar face on the ballot does not mean we should trust them. Sometimes the goal of a celebrity candidate is as simple as superficial personal advancement or a fun little endeavor. Mr. Sinha said it best on the campaign trail: "Glamour has limited power, whereas power has unlimited glamour." Then again, sometimes the goal of a purely political candidate is just as simple.
It wil be interesting to see who the Indians decide to trust and who turns out to voice their opinion.