Sunday, February 14, 2010

Populist! What? Where?

There's been a lot of discussion of  "populism" in American politics recently, particularly when it comes to the corporate media covering for the Tea Baggs.  It seems all of the current populists are pissed-off Republicans and people on the left calling for the Democrats to be more populist.  Pop-pop-pop-pop-ulists!!

There's only one problem with all this new-found populism - it doesn't exist because we Americans don't do populist.  We all love our elites too much to go for that kind of stuff.  That's right, I said ELITES and I mean left and right too. 

What got me started on this was a movie trailer online I stumbled across a while back and the populist talk brought it back to mind.  The movie being advertised was one of those rightwing 'documentaries' that was supposed to mock Michael Moore's methods in his films.  The point the movie was trying to make is that liberals are hypocrites because they are concerned about the poor and middle they climb into their limosines and private jets.

OK, let's get past the conservatives' odd view that being a liberal Democrat concerned about the less privileged and middle class means that they have to become monks who take a vow of poverty (guess they never heard of noblesse oblige).  The Republicans, in their way, lay claim to those same concerns and none of their supporters hold them to the same standards as they do for wealthy Democrats.

The point is that movie could have just as easily been made by a liberal about conservatives and both would still miss the real issue by a mile which is, down deep, we REALLY like rich and powerful people a lot and we keep voting them into office. 

Blame it on American guilt over being thrown out of all of the good countries when we were founded and that we really do miss royalty.  Lord knows we try hard to create our own - singers, actors, athletes - but they come up short and are discarded as quickly as they were crowned.  See, the thing about royalty is that they are what they are no matter what.  A Duchess doesn't lose her title because she loses it in a beauty salon and shaves her hair off.  A Baron can go out drinking heavily and trying to take all the drugs nightly then go in and out of rehab like he has his own personal revolving door and he's still a Baron.  American royalty substitutes don't get that kind of a break - go a little too crazy in public, start to lose your voice a bit, be unable to hit those homers or make those touchdowns anymore and it's the French Revolution again and off goes your head.

So where do we go for our royals?  Why, politics of course. 

I'm not talking about any individual here, individual politicians are often subject to the same rules that all of the other royalty substitutes rise and fall by.  The royalty I'm talking about is who we always look to as ready to either represent us or lead the nation.  Who are our populists, our kings and queens?  Rich people, plain and simple.

You may be brilliant but if you don't have the bucks, either earned or inherited, kiss off politics. Look around:  Sarah Palin and her family are worth at least a million dollars.  The last nominee for President for either major party that didn't come to the race already wealthy was Bill Clinton but he wasn't exactly hurting either and he's made up for that since.  Ross Perot ran for President as an independent with tons of coin in the bank to back it up.  More examples abound and we even do the jobs of fooling ourselves about these people by dressing up our worship of the wealthy in the words like "success" i.e. successful business man/woman etc. etc.

Our self-delusion is so complete that we consider these people "populists" and "ordinary folks who understand our problems."  Then we act surprised when they act for their interests and not ours as if it wasn't as obvious as hell that's exactly what they were all about from the get-go.

So please, don't talk to me about today's populism until you're ready to elect that intelligent janitor and send that mediocre-minded CEO packing.  Until then, GOD SAVE THE KING!!


WiseGuyEddie said...

This post was brilliant. It is the definition of the American irony of Democracy

andrea said...

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