Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elizabeth Warren, class warfare, and what politics means right now

I have said before in this space that I am very excited by Elizabeth Warren's campaign to reclaim a Massachusetts Senate seat for the Democrats, a seat won in a surprise result by Republican Scott Brown in 2010.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Warren is her willingness to engage in a kind of discourse that isn't afraid to state the obvious: politics is about power. Those with wealth and access to power are generally pretty successful at rigging the rules of the game to their benefit. And when this is pointed out with any degree of coherence, they scream that the accuser is engaging in class warfare.

But, really, all the accuser is doing is, again, stating the obvious: politics is about power. It's about having the resources to influence decision makers to do things that benefit you and those who share your interests.

When the resources in question are votes, democracy is working as it should. When the resources are wealth, we are not really living in a democracy at all (see Aristotle's Politics).

When the right says that someone is engaging in class warfare, what they really mean is that someone is getting close to clearly explaining how the minority have come to use their wealth to control so much of what goes on in America.

Those with wealth and power don't want anyone to define the battle lines too clearly because the 1% are, by definition, in the minority. If people actually started to understand the nature of the facts in all their simplicity, things might change rapidly.

Unless you are a part of the 1%, your goal should be to understand how the few control so much as a basis to help you agitate for a more equitable, fair and just society.

If you are not a part of the 1% and still think that the Republican Party has your best interests at heart, you are delusional.

Obama has never wanted to go there, in the direction of understanding that politics is about power, not until recently anyway. Elizabeth Warren has always seemed to be okay with that fight and that is what makes her interesting.

In a better world, politics might be something else, but this is what it is right now.

If you haven't seen her campaign launch announcement made some weeks ago, here it is.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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