Monday, November 7, 2011

The Inconvenient Truth about Politics and the Economy

What may be the most important sentence in Ezra Klein’s rather rambling account of Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men:  Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President for The New York Review lies buried in the middle of his text, where it runs the risk of being overlooked:

American’s don’t want leaders so much as they want jobs.

The is a variation of a lesson my wife use to teach to her middle school students about the early days of a Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Most of the residents of the colony recognized the importance of a representative government.  However, they tended not to have strong feelings about who represented.  The one exception to this rule of thumb concerned economic deliberations.  In other words whenever talk of money was involved, they wanted to make sure that they were represented by “one of their own.”

In many ways the Occupy movements amount to a latter-day reiteration of this principle.  American’s across the country look at Washington and see that their representation has been obscured by that elite “1%” of the rich and mighty, who either exert their influence directly or pay lobbyists to do a better job.  The sad conclusion is that it is not going to matter who wins any of the coming elections, because the same people, all of whom are external to the process of government is itself, will be pulling the same strings.  In other words this is further evidence that the very concept of “elected representative” has succumbed to what Max Weber called “loss of meaning.”

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