Prof. Bainbridge believes that politicians like Sarah Palin and Scott Brown are indicative of a larger social shift:

I think it says something bad about our culture that people like the Hiltons and Kardashians can vault into celebrity status without having accomplished anything.

But I think it says something even worse about our culture that we are starting to pick our leaders this way. We face serious problems and a growing list of serious threats. We need leaders who are serious people. Not leaders who are famous for being famous.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.