When the face of Dear Leader is larger than the content his image purports to endorse, then it’s no longer about the content. It’s about Dear Leader. If you were to ask Jeff Gahan how many mistakes he has made since becoming mayor, he’d pause only briefly before answering: none.
Think about this for just a moment. He’s a human, and humans are fallible. Do we need a mayor whose primary interest is self-deification, or do we need a mayor whose policies make a difference for ordinary citizens, like me and you?
And all that money from the same special interests, constantly flowing into Gahan’s campaign account. How much money is enough for the mayor and his clique?
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. Throughout history, monarchs and other heads of state were often held in enormous reverence and imputed super-human qualities. Through the principle of the divine right of kings, in medieval Europe for example, rulers were said to hold office by the will of God. Ancient Egypt, Imperial Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, Siam (now Thailand), and the Roman Empire are especially noted for redefining monarchs as “god-kings”.
The spread of democratic and secular ideas in Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries made it increasingly difficult for monarchs to preserve this aura. However, the subsequent development of mass media, such as radio, enabled political leaders to project a positive image of themselves onto the masses as never before. It was from these circumstances in the 20th century that the most notorious personality cults arose. Often these cults are a form of political religion.
The term “cult of personality” probably appeared in English around 1800–1850, along with the French and German use.