From the beginning of the American republic, its founders obsessed about how it all would end. “Democracy never lasts long,” said John Adams. “There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide.”

George Washington used his Farewell Address to warn that partisan “factions” could tear the country apart. The Federalists worried that domestic disunity could be exploited by hostile foreign governments. James Madison in particular feared that liberty might be lost by “gradual and silent encroachments of those in power.”

Check. Check. Check.

But there is one factor in our politics that the founders could not have predicted: the debilitating infection of celebrity culture.