The moneyed monarchy
: So in New Jersey, we now have the rich guy vs. the rich guy running for governor: Sen. Jon Corzine v. Doug Forrester, who has pummeled the state with ads for more than a year. And next door, of course, we have the rich guy mayor. Not that there’s anything wrong with being rich. Not that there’s anything wrong with using your own money to exercise your own free speech (after fighting for the First Amendment against the FCC, readers here made me see that I had to fight for it against the FEC, too; speech is speech). But the system is leading us to a point where the rich guys spending their own bucks will be taking over every office they can afford. There’s something so… so… colonial English about that. Finance reform is not the answer, clearly; it is taking power away from the people and giving it to the powerful. We need to fix that (again) and at least shorten the length of campaigns so there’s less time to spend all that wealth.
: LATER: Dick Meyer, editorial director of CBSNews.com, has an interesting take on rich politicians, inspired by The Times’ class-war (class-spat) series (whose premise I don’t entirely buy, being the grandson of folks who lived in a holler myself) and by The Times’ own coverage of how the rich live:
I just want to point out the irony of running an excellent set of pieces about the anthropology and demographics of the hyper-rich in a paper that is dining out on them. It is a kind of limousine liberalism that I believe also afflicts the Democratic Party too often, a conceit that “we are the enlightened rich.”
Bill Clinton didn’t bash the rich a lot, but he could have; Johns Kerry and Edwards did bash the rich a lot, and it flopped. It flopped partly because Americans who are not rich simply do not have a European-style, class base resentment. Americans aspire to being rich. That’s the American way. But the ’04 Democratic rhetoric also flopped because the guys spewing looked like such phonies; they weren’t just rich, they were richer than the Republicans: they were hyper-rich….
The point is not that being rich, or exploiting interest in the rich to sell newspapers, should be disqualifiers for tackling issues of economic justice. The point is to do it with some humility and an ear well-tuned to hypocrisy.