Monday, November 23, 2009
How much is that pundit in the window?
We view Congress and elected offices in general as seats of great power. Even if you have serious beefs with Congress...still, a visit to the chambers is going to affect you. You'll feel a bit of awe.
Thus it's hard for the average American--Democrat and Republican--to understand how America's richest 1/2 of 1% see Congress.
They see it the way we might look at a pet shop.
They go there to buy Congressmen, then take them home and train them. And like any good pet owner, they rarely beat their pets. They learn the tricks needed to discipline and control them. And of course sometimes a pet becomes intransigent--it might even attack its owner. Such pets must be dealt with, of course.
Meanwhile, most pets, like a good German Shepherd or Siamese cat, say, try to maintain their dignity while keeping their pet perks coming. It's quite a trick but the best pets learn how to do it.
And of course while you may come to feel a lot of affection for your pets, and they may feel quite at home around you, you never forget that they are not your equals. They're your treasured pets, nothing more, nothing less.
Then, once the Masters of the Universe have mastered the art of acquiring and training CongressPets, they use the same tricks on voting blocks and pundits. Make Mexican Americans think they'll be lost without your guidance--and that they can't trust anyone but you and your peeps. Make Fundamentalists think that God will smite our nation for its pornography and ho-mo-sex-uality (except for yours, of course, which is to be forgiven, since you're my peeps) unless you put your trust in me, who looks and talks just like you (except in my private life).
And the pundits will get in line too, of course. It's just a matter of figuring out the carrots and the sticks appropriate to the particular person.
Not everyone's for sale, to be sure. But they tend to get ground down by the river of money flowing around them. To make small, unimportant compromises at first...
The next time you see a Congressman spouting off on TV, think of how the powerful people you never see see him. Or her.
I'm not saying this to say it's hopeless. Just to help you see others' perspectives. And the magnitude of the task reformers face, both in and out of government.
Now there's a good boy. Here's a chew toy. Sit!