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December 15, 2010

Knee-deep in America’s political breeding program

I’m currently re-reading one of the greatest treatises on government, leadership, control and power ever written. It is not among the usual suspects — Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Hobbes or Plato. I’m re-engaging (with renewed awe) Frank Herbert’s “God Emperor of Dune.”

It is highly instructive. In the backdrop of the entire “Dune” series are efforts by different groups to create a particular type of human being through “breeding programs.” Without the knowledge of most of our society, we currently are at the mercy of a longstanding “breeding program” — a political one.

Let me clarify. President Obama’s latest foray into what some call “pragmatic politics” and others see as his latest “unprincipled refusal to fight” (this time a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts for the rich) has some Democrats stumbling into yet another circular firing squad with Obama in the center.

The point of instant conflict between the two parties is what you see. The press conference rhetoric is what you hear. But, what most fail to comprehend is that this is not new, and the sad truth is it does not matter. This is but the latest in a continuing line of distractions that veil the truth. Here is the reality, and I warn you, it is disturbing (for some): Those of you who thought you were really getting something “different” with Barack Obama were wrong. You may hold on to your illusions of change, but a changed reality is not forthcoming. Lament, acolytes.

I am not a Republican, and I do not support their madness. My critique comes from a totally different place, but I told you so. I am not disappointed in President Obama. To paraphrase the immortal Dennis Green, “He is what I thought he was.” He is a product of America’s “political breeding program.” Those of you who trusted him to fight, to challenge, and change — you are the ones with broken hearts.

I refer you to Richard Hofstadter’s work, “The American Political Tradition: And the Men Who Made It.” Hofstadter’s book was first published in 1948, and its original premise holds true. He concluded that the range of vision embraced by the primary American political leaders in the major parties has always been bounded by the acceptance of certain values and governmental approaches. They belong to different parties and purport to have different ideologies, but at the core they support the same system of economic disparity, imperialism and political power concentration as their predecessors. They are politically “bred” to do so.

Potential candidates who are really “different” rarely make it to the national stage. And what of the few that do, you ask? We are told (and believe) that these infrequently encountered men and women who really believe in change and venture out onto the political playing field are “unelectable.” They lose and simply disappear or are co-opted. We buy into the rhetorical despotism of the powerful, which shields its evil behind walls of pragmatism, compromise and political rationality. We are complicit.

Do you not understand that this creates a political reality where the players change, but the plays do not? The parties periodically exchange seats, but the ideology is constant. Choices about the range of thought available to the masses are made by the powerful long before candidates are made available to the people. I wrote years ago (before most began to question him) that Barack Obama is acceptable to the system because he is “painfully safe.” They all are. Change is a lie!

Sit now and be still. Observe as the Democrats faun bravery and outrage over the latest tax deal. Listen as the Republicans fake concern. Believe as the president tells you he is doing what’s best for America’s citizens — you’re just too stupid or sanctimonious to understand all that he is doing and has done. Be still I say! Open your eyes and ears to the truth at your peril. Ignorance is bliss indeed. So, suffer in silence and be content.

Do not be confused, the occupant in the White House will change in 2016 — he may change in 2012. But nothing else will. Whoever follows President Obama also will be a product of America’s political breeding program, only displaying the illusion of difference and change.

To deploy Dante, “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” if you want change. And, no — Santa Claus doesn’t exist either. Merry Christmas!