Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Parlous Plight of Plutocracy

The Times They Are A Changin'

For years, if not decades, professional political prognosticators have been heralding a new age of politics where money is not the necessary and sufficient ingredient to gaining and holding political power.  Has that age at last arrived?

The most promising avatar of the fiscal deconstruction of an elite ruling upper class has been the information revolution made possible by the internet and social media.  These radical change agents have undermined the establishment media, introduced new and different voices into national conversations, and facilitated ordinary citizens being able to broadcast their beliefs and opinions.

It is far too soon to farewell the monied control of national politics and government in the West.  We probably need to go through several election cycles to be sure that the electoral events of 2016 were not outliers, but the new mainstream.  But it would be a great achievement if Western nations finally unshackled themselves from the evil of plutocracies, along with the elitist establishments they inevitably produce.  We remain sceptical, yet curious.

A passing fad?  An outlier? An aberration?
 Too soon to tell.  But with these questions in mind, we were interested to read a piece about the minority Democratic caucus in the US House of Representatives, presently ruled over by a doyen of the elite, monied establishment--one Nancy Pelosi.

She has led the House Democrats for 14  years; she she has been re-elected to leadership of the Democratic caucus.  Her challenger, Tim Ryan was from Ohio.  He represents more of the New Wave.
Ryan’s challenge hinges largely on the argument that Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal widely despised in conservative circles, simply projects the wrong image for a party hoping to broaden its appeal to the Rust Belt voters who flocked to Trump.  “We have got to have the right messenger,” he said. “We have got to have someone who cannot just go on MSNBC, but go on Fox and Fox Business and CNBC and go into union halls and fish fries and churches all over the country and start a brush fire about what a new Democratic Party looks like.” 
A "new Democratic Party".  Appealing to the Rust Belt.  There was once a time when the Democratic Party was the Rust Belt.  The struggling, working classes were joined at the hip to the Democratic Party.  Now, not so much.  The Rust Belt finds itself neither enchanted nor entranced by plutocrats.

One Congressional staff person put it this way:
“So you have a number of members who look at the agendas and question why, when the country is worried about the economy and jobs, the Democrats are out talking about women power and some of the core liberal issues that aren’t going to play well in the places that Democrats have to win if they’re going to take back the majority.”
The expectation is that Pelosi will remain for a while.  But why?  The reason is that the Democrats remain the elitist party; it has been overtaken by the monied, the plutocrats, and those deeply wedded to the idea that it's all about money, and that money wins elections and maintains political power.  Here is the "money" quotation:
One former House Democrat, speaking anonymously on the sensitive subject, said . . . Pelosi deserves to remain in place.  “The most important messenger in American politics is money, and the ability to get on the air, get on social media, get on media that are relevant to voters is really expensive, and she has done a phenomenal job at giving us that opportunity,” the former lawmaker said Monday. “I don’t think there’s anyone who can come close to matching what she has done.”
Pelosi's opponent counter-argued:
Ryan has rejected that argument, saying the focus on campaign cash is misguided.  “If money was the answer, Hillary Clinton would be president and we would be in charge of the House of Representatives right now,” Ryan told “Meet the Press.”
There you have it:  the establishment plutocrats versus the people.  It looks as though the Democrats are not learning the lesson.  But, whether they learn or not, it seems as if  "the times, they are a changin' "  Let's hope the plutocrats remain slow learners.  Go Nancy!

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