The concluding part of Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment last week illustrated some of the glaring contradictions between historical fact and fanciful, revisionist fiction when it comes to the disparity between the fundamental values of America’s Founding Fathers and those of the so-called Tea Party movement that has attempted to co-opt them as spiritual leaders of their reactionary, populist cause.
Writing early last year in New York Magazine about the recent surge of populism in the USA, Kurt Anderson succinctly described the “elitist” disposition of America’s framers this way:
…what those thoughtful, educated, well-off, well-regarded gentlemen did was invent a democracy sufficiently undemocratic to function and endure. They wanted a government run by an American elite like themselves, as James Madison wrote, “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” They wanted to make sure the mass of ordinary citizens, too easily “stimulated by some irregular passion … or misled by the artful misrepresentations” and thus prone to hysteria—like, say, the rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor—be kept in check. That’s why they created a Senate and a Supreme Court and didn’t allow voters to elect senators or presidents directly. By the people and for the people, definitely; of the people, not so much.
It’s an excellent article that explores the conflicting dynamic that has existed from the outset in American politics between the “deliberative gentlemen engaged in careful compromise” and “the apoplectic vandals… throwing things overboard.”
Note: The usual warning applies regarding any RTWBM video… HBO may decide to have it pulled down at any time because they’re dicks that way.
Update: As expected, the hyper-vigilant copyright police at HBO zapped the clip that had originally been embedded.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the desperately tedious nature of the political battle the Conservatives and Liberals are presently engaged in than their latest round of duelling negative adverts:
Let’s just say at the outset that they’re both awful.
Released for no apparent reason, other than maybe to “poison the well” ahead of parliament resuming business after its absurdly long holiday break, each one tackles what is surely the lowest possible common denominator in politics these days: Taxes!
The Conservative ad is a petty, malicious piece of work filled with assertions that are dubious at best. For example, the attention-getting claim that Ignatieff apparently supported a $75 “iPod tax” turns out to be a complete fabrication based on nothing more than “some stillborn ideas put forward by Canada’s copyright board” (to quote David Akin). In other words, it’s a flat out LIE. Bookending the ad’s familiar collection of dated, out of context quotes (go check the source of that oft-repeated “tax and spend” one from 2004 and tell me that he wasn’t being somewhat facetious in describing himself that way…) are the obligatory sleazebag attacks on Ignatieff’s patriotism.
As for the Liberal ad, other than being half as short, it’s no better. After five years of fairly unexceptional minority governance, it’s quite feeble that Lib strategists are still compelled to demonize Harper as a dictatorial bogeyman of some sort. What’s truly insulting about this ad however, is its presumption that viewers are complete slackwits with no recollection of recent history. In fact, it was the Liberal Party under Paul Martin that initiated the process of steadily ratcheting down the corporate tax rate. A policy, by the way, that both he and his immediate successor enthusiastically touted as a means of attracting new business investment and promoting job growth in Canada. So it’s more than a little hypocritical (and technically inaccurate) to now indignantly claim “Harper is giving your tax dollars to the largest corporations”…
Is it any wonder that most people are turned off by politics when our two leading parties waste their time and resources excreting miserable pieces of shit like this?