Are we just puppets for elite political masters?
True plutocracy, here we come.A plutocracy, as I’m sure the reader knows, is the rule of a nation or group by the wealthy, and the wealthy alone. Those of lesser means need not apply; in fact, need not even think much about leadership at all. But, more on that later.My reading of history indicates that the advent of democracy was believed, by some, to be an antidote to the plutocratic tendency of a world based on money, a way for Everyman and Everywoman to be able to make his or her mark on the fates of nations.Of course, it hasn’t worked out exactly as some may have hoped (or maybe it has, and the entire framework was a ruse to make Everyman think he would have a say in how things work).Anyway, recent elections have shown us that we are rapidly coming to a state of affairs where only the fabulously wealthy can have realistic political ambitions, at least on a national scale. Locally speaking, it remains true that just about anyone can toss a hat into the political ring, but even close to the ground the cost of running for office is rising.I got to thinking about all this when news reports announced this week that 2008 will be our first billion-dollar election. Pundits say the amount of money needed by a candidate to make it through the “pre-election-year” stage, which is starting now to Election Day, will be $500 million.The topic came up when Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois to whom everyone is looking for a political sanity check, announced he is forming an “exploratory committee” to gauge his chances in 2008. That’s election-speak for “I’m in it now, like it or not.” The pundits instantly declared that, as of right now, Obama is too much of an unknown to win, and besides he hasn’t got enough money. So, the reasoning went, what he needs to do is explain himself in ways that will mollify “the system” so it won’t simply have him shot before Election Day, and start toadying up to the deep pockets of the major political donors to the tune of $100 million for this year alone. After he spends that on vapid, misleading television ads through the end of 2007, he’d better already be set to collect four times that initial amount if he hopes to make it into the White House.So far I’ve seen no indication that Barack Obama is rich, which puts him at a disadvantage in the pantheon of recent political leaders of our great nation. But maybe he’s got a trust fund hidden somewhere that will legitimize him in the eyes of the ruling elite.As noted at the outset of this exploration, those of lesser means need not apply for political supremacy, since their social goals so obviously are not in the best interest of the nation’s elite, and it is the nation’s elite to whom we must turn for all the important decisions.And the nation’s elite have fashioned a world in which those lesser lights are kept sufficiently entertained and distracted so they simply don’t have the time or energy to pay attention to the deeper currents of political truth.There’s all that fun to be had in the contrived recreational centers that used to be quaintly known as “the woods.”There’s all that fine drama and comedy on television, which rapidly is taking the place of real life for so many happy viewers.And there’s all that fabulously fascinating new electronic gear being pumped out of factories in far-off lands, where tiny people earn much higher incomes than they might otherwise had our factories stayed in the U.S. and continued to employ U.S. citizens. But the U.S. labor force became too fat and greedy for the likes of the management and were shown the error of their ways by the removal of all the good-paying jobs to foreign shores, where people with a little more respect for the hardships of being a corporate bigwig are more than happy to work for pennies on the dollar.This all has left the U.S. working class pretty much in a daze, and there is only the remotest possibility that, for this class, an awakening is in the offing. Should that happen, given the fact that a majority of U.S. households is well-armed and grumpy, there could be trouble.But since we’re all so busy watching “American Idol,” plugged into our iPods, glued to our Blackberrys and eating foods designed to kill us quickly, trouble is the last thing our elite masters are expecting.