Have you ever wondered what drives people to seek political power? I can readily understand, if not agree with, efforts motivated by religion, class, country or race. (Of course, all too often these fuse into one). In a more abstract sense I can understand people being driven by conservatism or liberalism.
But the broader Bush regime puzzles me. Sure, they call themselves conservatives, and have mastered the traditional conservative vocabulary. But as I've suggested in this post, Bush is no conservative. In fact he undermines most of the fundamental conservative principles through reckless financial mismanagement, becoming embroiled in ‘foreign entanglements’, while making government bigger and more intrusive then ever before. The same can be said for any of the other potential drivers, i.e. professed adherence to them have not been supported by actions..
So what are the drivers?
Two new books provide some interesting guidelines. ‘The Predator State’, by James Galbraith (son of the famous JK), and 'Imposter: How GW Bush Bankrupted America And Betrayed The Reagan Legacy’ by Bruce Bartlett come at the subject from different perspectives but arrive at similar conclusions.
Galbraith sees the emergence of a ‘new class – endowed with vast personal income, freed from the corporation, who set out to take over the state and run it – not for any ideological reason, but simple in the way that would bring them, individually and as a group, the most money, the least disturbed power, and the greatest chance of rescue should something go wrong’
Galbraith defines this as ‘predation’ - ‘the systematic abuse of public institutions for private profit’. Most recent events clearly support this interpretation, most notably the bailout for Wall St. fat cats while leaving millions of ordinary citizens immeasurably worse off. Add in the legislation that Bush has rushed through, in the interregnum period before he leaves office, which allows his business cronies rape and pillage the environment at will.
But is this motivation enough? Surely, if you’re already vastly wealthy you won't feel overly motivated to take over the political system to gouge out even further booty? It certainly wouldn’t be for me. Once I achieved a certain degree of financial comfort I found the economic imperative almost disappeared.
Who can say? But whatever the reasons, they've been disastrous for America and the world.