We have a wonderful, rational, reasoned approach to evaluating our Presidential candidates in a diary by Teacherken this morning. He dissects the strengths, and weaknesses of all 3 top tier aspirants. But, in reading Ken's effort I was struck by something I heard last night that may make all of our hopes and analysis irrelevant.
I know Howard Kurtz is not a popular guy around these parts, and he is certainly not a favorite of mine! But on BookTV, After Words last night, I heard him discussing his latest efforts to examine the media, and promote his most recent book. Kurtz was interviewed by James Warren, Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune.
After a lengthy discussion of a wide range of things from Katie Curic to the effects of the internet on reporting, Kurtz delivered the money quote: (para)
Bill Clinton ran as the most Liberal/Progressive candidate in a generation, and was elected based on that. But immediately after his inauguration he was pulled aside by Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin and told, "Now let's sit down and we'll tell you exactly how the system really works."
This led to NAFTA, evicerating welfare, the World Trade Organization, and a host of other policies that could only be considered very Conservative.
As Thom Hartmann has said, in summerizing the differences between the two opposing political philosophies in their current incarnations:
Conservatives believe that people are inheriently evil, and they must be controlled. Liberals believe that people are inheriently good and can govern themselves.
Hume and Locke, still engaged in the eternal struggle to define humanity.
The link between these two ideas deserves our further consideration. For, it seems that regardless of the inate Liberalism professed by the candidates, once they are given the reins of power those reins are firmly curbed by the Conservative power brokers who are anxious to control the actions of anyone who might place people before institutions - finanacial, legal, or military.
Remember your First Day in a New School? You are unsure, feeling inadequate, anxious to please, willing to take directions from any of the Old Hands, and quite overwhelmed by the novelty of your situation.
Now, imagine this feeling writ large. You have just been elected President of the United States, the scope of your task is just beginning to intrude on your consciousness and, no matter who you are, no matter your great self-confidence, intelligence, or skills, you feel very much like your First Day in a New School. You are ready, and willing to be co-opted by the BMOCs, and "experts" who promise to keep you from screwing up too badly.
Enter the Conservatives. They live in the belt way, dedicated to expertly guiding the new President, or Senator, or Representative, into maintaining the status quo, insuring that nothing too Liberal slips through the cracks. They are dedicated to convincing the new office holder that they know the way things must be done. Thus is the most Progressive Candidate in a generation subourned into doing the will of the conservative clique that just does not trust us to keep them wealthy, powerful and in control.
Regardless of who you support in the upcoming elections, regardless of how Liberal your candidate professes to be, no matter the promises made, or programs proposed, how do we as Lockian Liberals keep the Humeian Conservatives from usurping our will and distorting the philosophical understanding of the next President?
Why are some candidates so anethma to the Party Organizations, the Media owners, and the power brokers? Is it because they might be less malliable?
We elect candidates that have been carefully vetted by those who don't trust us to elect our leaders!! And, once we have chosen the "approved" candidate, they are quickly rush into meetings and told the "truth" of the Conservative governing philosophy. In their confusion and disorientation at the enormity of their situation, they grab any advise and information the "experts" offer.
I'm not sure we stand a chance...