Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One out of three would be good


By Bill Kraus

I have observed more than once that Lincoln's famous claim that we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is no longer true.

A reading of Jon Meacham's book on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, suggests that it never was.

The revolution that created the government that Lincoln described was fomented by the colony's elite whose rights and privileges were unjustifiably and wrongly curtailed and restricted by the overreaching British. The new government they created was run by that same often contentious elite.

As it developed and matured a bureaucracy came in to run things. The bureacracy was chosen, directed and overseen by the elite.

So what we got over time was a government of the elite, by the bureaucracy, and for the people. The people batted .333. Not unlike baseball, this was more than satisfactory.

Sometime in the post-Watergate reform decades the elite has been more of a no-show than the important-to-dominating presence it was when Ody Fish ran his party and Dick Cudahy his. When the likes of Bernie Ziegler, Wayne Hood of the Trane Company, Eau Claire's Bill McIntire, the steelworker's Bert McNamara, the UAW's Ray Majerus, and John Schmidt of the AFL-CIO walked the halls of the Capitol and were known and welcomed in any office they entered.

Today the organization bureaucrats to whom the elite have delegated (outsourced?) politics have taken over. Not to disparage or diminish their work, competence, or effectiveness, but it isn't quite the same, and it certainly isn't what the founding fathers foresaw.

This unforeseen and, to me anyway, unwelcome phenomenon has spilled over into politics itself. When Ody's and Dick's parties were the main event, citizen campaign managers ran the campaigns, hired the hired guns, recruited the candidates, and, more importantly, set the tone of the contests.

When the now famous (infamous?) Roger Ailes came to town he got his marching orders from John MacIver not vice versa as would be the case today.

I want the elite back in the game. I also want the press back as a universal and unifying communication system. So does Warren Buffett, which is encouraging. The Jefferson dictum that a free, universal press is as essential to the success of this democracy as the elite is still true.

I may even want the parties back as a route for the elite and the politically inclined to, respectively, run things and get into the game. There is a way to reroute the campaign money to re-empower the parties. This would be imperfect and incomplete but encouraging, not unlike what Buffett is trying to do to restore the press as our communication system.

I want a government of the elite, by the bureaucrats, for the people again.

Is that too much to ask?

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