Former reason editor Virginia Postrel explores the cultural effects of glamour in a forthcoming book and on her website, DeepGlamour.net. We asked her to list three ways glamour intersects with politics.
1 Glamorous political figures are rare. Unlike charisma, glamour isn't a personal quality a politician can possess. It's a product of imagination that requires mystery and distance, which are hard to maintain in a political environment that prizes familiarity and full disclosure. Glamour also tends to dissipate once you're in office and have to take specific positions. (See Barack Obama.)
2 Glamorous policies are common. As a nonverbal form of rhetoric, glamour is one of the most common ways of selling policies—not to mention countless military actions, perhaps the oldest use of glamour in politics.
3 Political glamour is most seductive when it's selling systems that promise an escape from complexity and compromise. Whether expressed in full-blown communism, Western European socialism, or American technocracy, the glamour of top-down planning shaped 20th-century politics. F.A. Hayek lamented classical liberalism's lack of similar utopian inspiration, but Ayn Rand was masterful in her use of glamour. She knew not only how to tell a romantic story of struggle and triumph but how to create glamorous snapshots that focused her audience's yearning for freedom and fellowship. Hence the persistent, if illusory, appeal of recreating Galt's Gulch in the real world.