In the current race for the presidency, it has become clear that among the candidates who might be suitable, the Villagers are supporting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side and Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain on the Republican side. All of them have made the proper obeisance to the Village gods.
The Villagers do not like any real suspense in elections (uncertainty is always bad for business) so the sooner the race settles down to two people out of that list of suitable candidates, the better they will like it. Then they can sit back and enjoy the show that is put on for the rest of us, in which the Villager-approved Democratic nominee takes on the Villager-approved Republican nominee, with the media treating it as a major conflict between very different ideologies, when all it actually boils down to are differences on issues (abortion, gay rights, the Ten Commandments, immigration, and the like) that the Villagers want people to talk about but not really do anything. All the hype is just meant to get us non-Villagers excited and think that we are really involved in making a momentous decision. Again, a parallel can be found with what magicians like Penn and Teller do. In many tricks, by the time the audience member makes what seems like a free choice of a card or whatever, the trick is already over and the outcome determined and the audience member does not realize that he or she has been conned.
The Villagers like the outcome determined so well in advance that even candidates who might be acceptable to them are marginalized early. This is what likely happened to people like Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson (for the Democrats) and Fred Thompson (for the Republicans). The Villagers also tend to not want people who might be suitable on the issues they really care about but seem to be too passionately and genuinely devoted to causes that are not on the pro-business or pro-war agenda. Such candidates, in their zeal, may inadvertently do things that upset the core agenda of the Villagers. This may be why they have also marginalized Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo, whose harsh xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric must also grate on the cosmopolitans who make up the Village, who like having abundant and cheap labor because it drives down wages in general and increases profits for businesses. It also doesn’t hurt to have cheap labor to take care of their lawns and mansions. (Tom Tancredo has apparently decided to drop out of the race, surprising many people who had not known he was even in the race. Oh, Tom, we hardly knew ye!)
Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul are definitely disliked by the Villagers, which is why they are sometimes not even invited to appear in the media-sponsored debates, since the big media outlets have their antennae tuned to pick up the Villagers’ cues. Kucinich has a long history of going against the interests of big business and his call for a single-payer health care system that would eliminate the huge health insurance industry and reduce the vast profits of the drug industry is more than enough to disqualify him. The Villagers absolutely detest Ron Paul for his paleo-conservative/libertarian stances opposing the war and torture and a host of other Village-approved policies, and because of his constant references to the importance of liberties enshrined in that dangerously subversive document, the US Constitution. Another big problem with Paul is that he actually takes seriously the idea of making government smaller. The Villagers attitude is to just talk about making government smaller as a rhetorical ploy but actually use it to serve their particular needs even if that means making it bigger. They would like to see Paul ignored and disappear but this is proving to be difficult to achieve because he keeps getting loud applause at the Republican debates and good internet coverage, and is thus able to raise remarkable sums of money. But Kucinich and Paul have not caused any panic (yet) because their poll numbers are low. If their numbers start to rise precipitously (which is more likely to happen with Paul than Kucinich), watch for the knives to come out.
Currently it is Mike Huckabee that is freaking out the Villagers for reasons I discussed in an earlier post. His beliefs are not acceptable to the urbane sophisticates. He seems to actually believe in some of the crazy things that the Bible teaches, and is not just paying lip-service to them, which is the Villager-approved approach. David Corn over at Mother Jones lists all the bizarre and hateful things that Huckabee has said in the recent past. His sudden leap into the lead in polls is causing consternation amongst the Villagers and we see almost a panic mode in the attempts to bring him down.
Huckabee and his supporters don’t seem to realize that the Villagers weren’t really serious about putting god back into schools or hating gays or keeping women in the kitchen or completely banning abortions or expelling all immigrants. You were supposed to play “dog-whistle politics”: to hint with a straight face at such things using code-words so that those who really care about such things would pick up the cues on their carefully tuned dog-whistle frequency. These issues were just supposed to be bones thrown to the yokels to keep them loyal and happy and vote for your side. But Huckabee seems to actually believe them. Even worse, his positions on some economic issues (based on vague notions of Christian charity) go against Village interests.
James Walcott brutally captured the contempt with which Villagers like op-ed writer Charles Krauthammer hold the actual voters who they depend upon. I too discussed a similar example that showed how the Village media manipulates election coverage to get the finalists they want by deciding what things are worth reporting on and, more importantly, to repeatedly dwell on. As Jonathan Schwarz says: “If you’re not part of their little charmed circle, believe me, all your worst suspicions about them are true. They do think you’re stupid. They do lie to you. They do hate and fear you. Most importantly, they think you can’t be trusted with the things they know—because if you did know them, you’d go nuts and break America.”
On the Democratic side, the potentially disturbing candidate for the Villagers is John Edwards, for different reasons than for Huckabee. On the surface, he might seem to be suitable to become a Villager. He is an urban sophisticate, rich and well-educated, a former US Senator and even a vice-presidential candidate. But while his background may have been acceptable initially (and his policies are not really all that radical) his recent strong rhetorical attacks on the business (and especially health care) lobby and his constant reference to the injustice of having ‘two Americas’ divided into rich and poor, are too frightening for the Villagers, who may worry that he is not be as reliably acquiescent as a Clinton or an Obama. They probably fear that he might be another Gary Hart, a smart man with a populist bent and a streak of independence, without the mistress weakness that can be used against him. He might or might not be dangerous to Village interests but the Villagers never take risks and they will try and make sure he does not win. Clinton and Obama are the ‘safe’ choices, as far the Villagers are concerned.
This is how politics in the US currently works. It is not a pretty sight. It has very little to do with democracy of the kind we might romanticize about and is idealized in the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution. What we really have is an oligarchy wrapped up in the trappings of democracy.
Thomas Jefferson once said:
Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.
It is not hard to guess into which category the Villagers fall.
The two parties identified by Jefferson are the ones that we should focus on, not Democrats-Republicans or liberal-conservative or left-right. The real political battles we should be fighting are those devoted to wresting power away from the first party and giving it to the second.
Otherwise we will have in perpetuity the current state of American democracy: Government of the Villagers, by the Villagers, and for the Villagers.
POST SCRIPT: Meet the Christianisty candidate
If the Villagers manage to successfully torpedo the Huckabee insurgency, religious voters can always turn to an even more god-loving candidate in ’08: Jackie Broyles.