Friday, March 2, 2012

With Money Comes the Responsibility to Buy Things - like Chia Pets, or the Presidency

I mentioned the Leviathan a few blog posts back, and in retrospect, I wonder how many readers understood the reference. Without pulling a self-destructing verbal torpedo like Adlai Stevenson (a topic for another time), I figured I would shine some political light on our inadvertent buy-in to social contract theory.

/Rant on/

In 1651, Englishman Thomas Hobbes published his treatment, The Leviathan, concerning a contract that we, the masses, might enter upon with the lords and larders of governmental control. Kicked back and forth from a revolutionary France and the turmoil of the disintegrating English rump parliament, Hobbes' rear-end came to rest on London soil only to be arrested by Oliver Cromwell's round-heads. Ironic, as this absolutist government was exactly what Hobbes had been arguing for.

Ol' Hobbes


His argument, to bring it to summation, was that a populace should give up a limited amount of freedom in order to preserve the common good - that we should offer ourselves under the protection of an all-powerful, firm and dictatorial regime in order to protect the remaining freedoms we hold so dear. This regime, this beast of absolute control, is the Leviathan.


The idea isn't as far out as it seems, and be quite assured, we are no longer dancing around the theory of such a creation. Our republic has become just that, a beast long out of our personal management. What does one vote from New Hampshire or Iowa or Michigan count for when the end result of election sways to favor the greatest spending campaign? A counter argument might suggest the candidates are a result of the choices made by a well-informed democracy, with one ballot-slip for each registered voter counting to reflect the greatest good. This sounds comforting, but we are not a democracy.



"My, you look pretty. May I buy you an election?"
From the Greek, democracy translates to 'Rule of the Citizen Body.' Note the caveat - who might be considered a true citizen? Speaking for myself, I have $100 in a savings account, not enough to be given the time of day by even the most out-reaching of politicos. I have nothing they want or can use. It has been reported last week that the super-pacs feed off of monies offered by the little guy (donations of $1,000 or less), as well as the super rich we all love to hate. And though 90% of contributors digging into their pockets fall under the $1k donation watermark, 99% of donated dollars do not come from those wallets. Our name may not be signed on the bottom of that corporate donation check, but you can bet your last mortgage payment that it's your money. It's a good thing we all voted for the bailouts, right? Oh wait, that's right - we didn't.


Our forefathers, and I believe I have ranted about this in the past, were quite aware of the language used to create our national image, sort of a proctored American Idol with displaced Africans. After all, how could there exist a logical justification for slavery if we were truly formed under the auspices of the voice of the people, as democracy is so often mistranslated? It is the citizens who speak, not the people, and they speak with greenbacks. Big, fat bills, usually in the millionth denomination.


If you want change, you damn well better have a big enough bill in your pocket worth breaking.




/Rant off/