A Pakistani friend explained to me that in that country, you vote for the guy from your region. That includes someone of your religion, maybe social class, etc. The idea behind that is that he will loot the country on behalf of his supporters, which coincides with his region. He will lower their taxes by raising others’. He will loot the country for himself and his followers, and so the way to do well is to align yourself with such a leader and grab the spoils that fall your way. To call this cynical is to misunderstand it: it is the way governance works there, and in many other countries. It’s all about spoils and loot.
Our own country has had a history of this, but more importantly a history of fighting against it. What we see now is the battle being lost. Liberals even have misgivings about Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street, seeing the likelihood of her being soft on corporate excesses, malfeasance, and outright crime, not to mention the siphoning off of millions of dollars and jobs to places outside the U.S. Once more I must refer you to Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order. Once powerful people get their hands on the government, the only way to dislodge them seems to be through an upheaval. That’s messy and often bloody. What can we do to avoid that? The Right has tried to turn voters away from Obama by claiming he’s not “one of us”, “a real American” and that he is favoring Blacks the exact same tactics seen in Pakistan. How are we different?
Traditional politics in the U.S. have always seen politicians appealing to factions and leaders lamenting the tactic. But it is hard to avoid appealing to the Hispanic vote, the Jewish vote, the Polish vote, the farm vote, even the disgruntled Southern White vote, let along the massive Christian vote and evangelical vote and Catholic vote. The campaign can focus its efforts, tailor its message, and often even arrange tours of areas of concentration of such voters or at least symbolic visits (attend church, go to Israel, eat golumpki, open your campaign in Oxford, Mississippi, put on bib overalls and hold a pitch fork, put on a Plains Indian headdress, and so on. We make fun of it, but it works. Even Romney’s mommy jeans may have won over a few working-class guys.
But as power concentrates, catering to that power block results in greater power adhering to it. Power is the control of resources. As we see the Supreme Court closing down voting to greater numbers of people, we realize with horror that it is now in the hands of this one power block the wealthy. The goal is power, and control of resources means moving aside those who might compete: Blacks cannot vote, Hispanics will be deported, gays will go back into the closet if not camps…. the scenario sounds absurd and certainly exaggerated, but look back to the Jews in Germany: they felt themselves thoroughly assimilated, some even having become Christian. But the Nazis went through the records, rooting out anyone with a Jewish past. It cost the regime dearly, but it did just this: genocide. This was a shock to the world but similar massacres, genocidal and otherwise, had been and have been carried out in Soviet times, in Maoist China, and who can forget Rwanda and Yugoslavia? In the twelfth century the Mongols routinely massacred whole cities. To think we are beyond this is to forget how apathetic and lethargic a good many of our voters are and how inspired are the legions on the Right who believe that only their culture, their religion, their people deserve to live freely in this country. As they say, “I want my country back”, meaning they want the power they believe they once had as White Christian native-born Americans. They make up about a third of the country.