I was just wondering if anybody has done a study on this. It stands to reason that when the people have a choice in their leader, they would have a bias for appearance. BTW: John Howard and George Bush seem like egegrious data points.
Theres a lot of research that says that voters elect old, white, non-bearded men. Even amongst minorities and women.
OTOH, Bill Clinton got a big ol’ chunk of the female voters.
In When We Were Kings, George Plimpton says of Mobutu Sese Seko something to the effect of “When you see brutal dictators up close, you’re struck by how incredibly plain they look. It’s hard to comprehend how someone who has killed thousands of his own people could look so dull.”
Lookism probably plays a part on the other side of the equation, too: to become a dictator, unless you inherit the post from your dad, you usually have to rise in a political movement/in a party/in the military first, i.e. you have to look like a leader to people in that environment.
What do you mean by egegrious ?
Oops, I meant egregious
Looks is one thing, and my WAG is that it’s pretty important for winning the vote of the masses, especially when the masses are so great in number as to preclude personal knowledge of the candidates’ habits. Both Bushes, Clinton, Reagan, Kennedy etc are all presentable dudes (Nixon, Ike & Johnson were extraterrestrials who assumed leadership through mind-control–not realy a fair barometer of the democratic process).
For dictator-types physical comeliness seems to serve only a secondary position to charisma and cunning: how persuasive a person is and how long that persuasion will persist in his physical absence. Hitler, Hussein & Castro were dogs to look at, but to attain their positions they had to have the support of people who wanted them to lead and provide for them. Hitler is a pretty well-documented case of a guy who made efficient use of a few strong connections to get past his dumpy, puny, mustard-gassed & bitter personality so that, when his time came, there was a demand for a leader of just his description: Angry, injured, betrayed, outcast and energetic…just like Germany at the time.
Matchka ain’t much to look at and he’s not all that cunning. But he’s a good person and, doggone it, people who meet him, like him. So he will not go very far politically.
Dictators have them.
Democratically elected leaders don’t.