Wily winning: A manual of mutating political philosophy – December 8, 2008
By Joseph Randolph
Yes, your opponent is not your immediate obstacle now, but the needs of your voters are. Remember the voters you have to keep; your opponent you have to destroy, politically speaking. Of course you defeated your opponent in the present, but she or others like her will return. For the time being, and because you were elected, and not your opponent, you should turn more toward your voters than our frazzled opponents. Fortunately for us they are presently in a free fall and their nightmarish worry is when, if ever, they will come out of their plummet. Defeat has disgraced them. If you respond to your voters appropriately, our political opponents may never witness an end to their punitive descent, and thus their final demise may be in the near future. Thus, by keeping your voters satiated and happy, we will decisively defeat even your future opponents even before their names are known. Keeping your voters happy works more ill for your opponent than if you attack him. You can politically kill your opponent by being kind to your voter. This is why I said to you toward the end of your campaign, that a successful campaign should be measured by how little you speak about your opponent. Indeed, in a perfect campaign, you would never need to even mention him or her at all.
The anxiety of our voters—but before that— here I must respond to your question. Despite the opportunities before us, we take nothing for granted. Thus, the election is never over, and it is your naïve mistake to think there is a time—you imagine it as now, after your election—when you are not running for office. You are always running for office. This means that your campaign never comes to an end, even after you are elected or reelected. Of course you do not talk that way in the presence of your constituents, but the point is you always position yourself in such a way that all that you do and say is construed and calculated for your next bid for election. That is simply another element of our reigning political philosophy that all things are political. We are not therefore, and never will be, statesmen. We are politicians.
The country is now understandably anxious and nervous. As I said to you prior to your election, this state of affairs presents us with gigantic opportunities, but handled unwisely, such financial tremors could prove detrimental for us if a wrong course of action or response is offered. Caution must always be exercised.
The fact of the matter is that none of us have a sliver of certitude about how to calm our gyrating and sinking economy. We know how to calm the voters, but the economy is another matter. We of course have our usual idea of pumping money into an economy rapidly losing money, but taking from ourselves to pay ourselves has its limitations. This is not taking from Peter to pay Paul, but Peter taking from Peter to pay Peter and Paul taking from Paul to pay Paul. That point aside, what the voter must see in us is a picture of calm serenity when the waters are choppy. Furthermore, if the ship of state is being tossed around ferociously, we must remain steadfast in our poised attention on the obstacles our voters face. Our response is nevertheless all window dressing, though not precisely intended for deception, but for calming our voters. But there is more.
An appearance of calmness in no way undermines my earlier advice of some weeks ago, when the first real perceptions of what was to come became evident to us. That is, we get political traction when the ground is shaking, and if it is not shaking we try to convince our voters that it is. We do the reverse for the reverse situation. That is, when the ground is shaking, we tell our voters not to worry because they have us, and in us they have solidity. So in the one case we create fear; in the other we take it away. The middle ground of transition between the two we play to whichever is of most political benefit to us at the moment.
Of course we are for financial bailouts of various sorts. In fact there is hardly one that we could imagine being against: school bailouts, union bailouts, kindergarten bailouts, spa bailouts, lodge bailouts, bar bailouts, and of course, as needed—business bailouts. Our reasoning, which I have conveyed to you many times, is simple. The money makers of our country we loathe, because we purport to loathe money while we love people. We nevertheless are in the business of propagating a political ideology predicated on the belief that people have a right to money. It is our most basic belief; therefore, our hatred of money does not cause us to spurn money, but to take it as we wish in our belief that people without it, or enough of it, have a right to it or to more of it. We aim therefore to eradicate the class of have-nots. We have as our goal a classless society. In effect, we hate the money others have, while we love the money that we have. This constitutes, therefore, our love/hate relationship with money. We loathe it when someone else has what we could have. To take it without benefit of law would be stealing; to take it under cover of law is compassion. The vast majority of voters love us for it.
All this is to say that bailouts are necessary, because the money providers of our mammoth government of everything for everybody must not be too severely choked, because they produce the money we take and redistribute. So again, and now and forever, we can have our cake and eat it too. That is, we can chastise the greed of our money makers while filling our buckets with the product of their work. So we give the appearance of being prepared to shut them down because of their greed, but when they appear to be gasping for their last breath, we "rescue" them from their destruction.
Thus, to keep our voters happy, they must be kept in money. To keep them in money, the money producers must be making money, so we can milk them of it. Where they are not making money, we pump money into them, so they can resume making money. When your voter sees this taking place, he will tend to think this is not only an adequate response, but a humane and responsible one.
There is also a long term benefit to our current financial crisis and what we are doing about it. It simply allows our politicians in government to start to assume greater power over these renegade market forces—the vaunted but vicious "free" market. For example, we may, if our insiders are savvy enough to accomplish it, force the auto manufactures to make only the kind of automobiles we the government want for the people. This puts us in charge of the producers and the people.
Joseph Randolph is a writer and academic who lives in Wisconsin.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!