The Kardashian Effect On American Politics

GameofInches_TempOct21Before I explore the currents state of American politics I will begin the program like most TV shows these days with a commercial.

My  new novel in the Jack Patterson Legal Thriller series, A Game of Inches, hits the bookstores very soon. You may pre-order copies at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local independent bookstore. If you  would like an autographed copy with a personal message go to  All my books are now available for your Kindle, Nook, or e-reader, too.

What do I mean by the Kardashian effect of American politics? First, we now expect politics to be entertaining not serious. The media, the political pundits, and we as the audience expect one-liners, thirty-second discussions about such serious subjects as immigration, the national debt, war in the middle east, or our crumbling infrastructure. How many times during the debates have you heard words to the effect, “I have a plan for _____, and if you want to know the details go to my website.” No one really goes to the websites except the staffs of one’s opponents. What’s important is to have a plan for every issue, no matter how ridiculous the plan — a wall built by Mexico that’s a “beautiful wall,” — for example. Like the Kardashians the more ridiculous or outrageous the higher the ratings and attention a candidate receives.

We are all captivated by celebrities, and so we pay more attention to endorsements by pop-singers, movie stars, and the very rich no matter his or her intellectual capacity or whether they are even old enough to vote. Who should care if an eighteen year-old folk singer endorses a candidate, but apparently that carries a lot more weight than a distinguished statesman who actually has studied the candidates and the issues. The Kardashian effect is all about money and glamour, not substance. I fear American politics is headed in the same direction.

When Men Betray Book CoverIn my first novel, When Men Betray, the main character says that in politics money always finds a way. Like the Kardashian’s, our political system has become all about money. Even President Obama, who is in the last year of his presidency and can no longer run for office, is still flying to Hollywood to attend fund raisers. Why, one might ask? Why does he need money?

Like we know all about the Kardashian’s — their internal squabbles, sex life, and darkest secrets, we expect to know all the details of our political candidate’s personal affairs. We want their medical records, tax returns, birth and marriage certificates, and whereabouts at all times. The same goes for their spouses, children, parents, and pets. The Kardashian effect has gone so far as to have respected journalists commenting on candidates going to the bathroom during a debate or needing a glass of water.

Could a Lincoln, FDR, or a Kennedy today get elected? A better question might be why would they want to run? Unless we back away from the Kardashian effect on our politics, the only people who will be running are reality TV personalities, and what would that be like?


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