Saturday, July 26, 2008

To McCain and Obama: "A Cause Higher Than Yourself," Yourself!

In an article called "Self - Interest is Bad?" in the Weekly Standard (July 21, 2008), senior editor Andrew Ferguson has a lot of fun with the phrase a "cause higher than your own self-interest." He abbreviates it CGTYOSI, and shows how both candidates preach on this theme. He runs through a list of others who've said it before - including Reagan and LBJ, Jesse Jackson and Newt Gingrich.

His essential point is that any politician who uses this phrase is betraying the "condescension" of the chattering classes -- academics, news media, lawyers and politicians.

Why does a candidate feel compelled to exhort his nation to a higher cause...? He reveals a low opinion of his countrymen by doing so. He implies a population lost in self-absorption and narcissism, each member ignoring others in pursuit of selfish ends.

Ferguson predicts that either of the candidates now gallivanting across the globe promoting themselves will be "hectoring" us for the next four years,

with the implication that as we go through the day getting our kids out of bed, packing their lunches, helping them with homework, dragging ourselves to our jobs, enduring an hour's commute, so we can make enough money to meet our mortgage, attending PTA meetings, feeding the dog, going to church, mowing our neighbor's lawn while he's on vacation, planning a birthday party, saying a prayer for a sick friend, picking up a six-pack for our brother - in - law on the way home, writing a check to the Red Cross, shopping for an old roommate's wedding gift, pretending to listen to the tedious beefs of a co-worker, telephoning an aged aunt, and otherwise doing what it is we need to do to make our lives mean something, we are merely pursuing what our two presidential candidates consider our selfish interest.

For now, of course, each of the two men, McCain and Obama, points to himself as an exemplar of service -- even as he avoids his family, neglects his job, and hands his everyday obligations over to poorly paid subordinates, all so he can fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming the most powerful and celebrated man in the world.

Well - said. The chattering classes (of which I am, alas, typical) think that we are the Ones Who Know, and it's why the largest sub-category of chatterers are suspicious of Ones Who Manufacture and Ones Who Don't Want To Be Told From Washington How To Run Their Lives and Their Businesses.

1 comment:

tapeboy said...

Hmm… maybe Americans do need to be reminded that there are things bigger than the new iPhone or Paris Hilton’s new hair style—Like, OMG! Have you seen it yet!? Or maybe just Congress? They desperately need to practice what they preach. I recall one Representative stating that the $6.6 billion in earmarks on the bailout bill was such a small percentage when compared to the total. Well, that 1 percent he referred to was 32 percent more than the cost of the USS Ronald Regan/George H. W. Bush—the most expensive weapons in the US military's arsenal.

Rhetoric: It is not new or unique to politics. People are often moved to action more by emotion than rational thought. I remember Firestone’s advertising campaign shortly after the Ford Explorer/Firestone debacle. The company attempted to tie their products into the fabric of America and subliminally suggested that they were somehow responsible for making the country great. As if manufacturing tractor tires and some anti-aircraft guns in WWII somehow overcame the company’s lackadaisical attitude towards the death or injury of hundreds of people. I distinctly remember catching the tone: “Buying Firestone is patriotic.”

But even the master of CGTYOSI—the military—has to employ a bit of the invisible hand. In yesteryears, was it not approximately, “Join the Navy. See the World?” Today, it is “Join the Army and earn money for college.”

Well, I suppose there was something larger this election cycle than the American “chattering classes”: the global chattering classes. Did you see that the One called Obama received 97.8 percent of the “global electoral college?”

It was written, and so it shall be—cometh has He.