Published on
the Daytona Beach News-Journal (Florida)

Election 2008: The Uselessness of Political Equity

Nicholas Ruiz

Now that the Democrats have made a "choice," we can proceed with the inevitable.

It's not that political systems are useless. Let us dispel illusion with disillusion, no?

Whenever we are faced with another millionaire candidate, questions arise: Who paid for the policies one brings to the table of compromise? Who does one represent? Jean Baudrillard once claimed that then French president Jacques Chirac was useless, because he did not represent the French masses. What is different in representative American politics today? Hillary Clinton is out of the race for the presidency, but with a net worth of $34 million, she will find something to do, I'm sure. So it is Barack Obama and John McCain we are expected to consider. Obama is worth $2 million. McCain is worth $30 million.

And what would compel one to participate in this election? The true horse race over, there is little left to say, but we'll say it anyway: the real foreclosure of today is that of the people, not the homes they over-leveraged. Democracy has been foreclosed. When every senator and representative is rich, every candidate is wealthy, it leaves democracy poor.

How did we arrive at this utopia? In the 2004 preface to his book about race, Obama boasts that despite his lack of means and personal wealth, he was still able to clinch the democratic nomination for the Senate. However, his tax returns show that he has been earning about a quarter of a million dollars since at least 2000. In other words, he earned about $1 million in the four years immediately preceding the writing of that preface. We wonder exactly how such a man defines personal wealth. Perhaps it has something to do with being a self-proclaimed "instrument of God," as he said on CNN, during the televised Compassion Forum on Faith and Politics at Messiah College. Hillary Clinton was there too, describing her "faith journey." Obama advocated a return to the Church and reaching out to evangelical leaders. One can view video clips of his and her piety on, wherein the whole CNN event is catalogued for secular and religious posterity.

See, politicians, in general, don't want to just help the people, but rather would like to help themselves, too. This is why politicians are most often rather wealthy before they even dream of becoming public servants. Since one cannot help the people without funds, maybe the wealthy become wealthy so that they can, then, help the people?

One might be tempted to believe that since the wealthy are so good at enriching themselves, they too, might be good at enriching the public. Alas, politics does not work that way, does it? Instead, we find that the wealthy, having become wealthy (or by having inherited wealth), simply keep on being wealthy -- and becoming wealthier, at a faster rate than anyone else. But since they own almost everything, I guess it's better to let them make all of the decisions about our country. We just live here.

But we have plenty of choices for political representation, no?

For example, John McCain is a stand-up guy. After all, he was a captain in the U.S. Navy. His father was an admiral. His grandfather was an admiral, too. And McCain puts his money where his mouth is: He spent years being tortured, an American soldier captured and made a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Still, I wonder why he voted against the adoption of a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday in 1983.

McCain is wealthy, too. And we have already established the reason of our need for wealthy political leaders: because they care about the people. The best example of this is Bill Clinton. Bill has helped the people a lot. Especially after leaving office. Bill has earned about $50 million just talking to people, giving speeches, helping them out. That's why I'm not worried about Hillary: she and Bill will get by -- and they will do it helping the people.

And that is what we need to remember about the uselessness of political equity: there's no need for it, because the wealthy -- like our past self-appointed noblemen, kings and queens -- are doing so well, making decisions and, now, even running for office and getting elected by the people. So we know the people will prosper, too, because we are no longer the mistreated and abused subjects of an aristocracy but are, rather, self-assured and flourishing citizens who are represented at every point in the political process. Right?

Ruiz, Ph.D., is associate professor of cultural arts at Daytona State College. He is the author of "America in Absentia" (forthcoming, 2008) and "The Metaphysics of Capital," (Intertheory Press, 2006). He is also the editor of Kritikos: a journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image.

© 2008 News-Journal Corporation

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