Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Politics of Gesture

The Politics of Gesture

Hillary Clinton's new proposal to create a "Cabinet level Department of Poverty" with the mission to end poverty, once and for all, would be funny if it were not so dangerous. Before anyone tries to deny that this is her intent you need to read her own words:
“I believe we should appoint a cabinet level position that will be solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it in America,” she solemnly intoned. “A position that will focus the attention of our nation on the issue and never let it go. A person who I could see being asked by the president every single day what have you done to end poverty in America? No more excuses. No more whining, but instead a concerted effort.”
No room for ambiguity there. After almost fifty years of Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" we have just as many Americans who are counted in the ranks of those who live their lives in poverty as we had when we started, in 1964. Granted that our poor often have their own homes and cars, and even cell phones and designer jeans, they are still listed as being under "the poverty line."

Politicians always want to be seen as the source of the cure to all our ills, or as Michael Medved puts it:
The entire proposal highlights the Democratic Party’s current addiction to the politics of gesture dictated by the “Do Something Disease.” Under the grip of that dread malady, public figures feel the compulsion to stage a response to any perceived problem – even if that reaction accomplishes nothing in terms of meaningful solutions.

The Do Something Disease compels posturing that shows off the compassion of politicos, rather than policies that actually improve the lives of afflicted citizens. Results don’t matter, as long as the leader manages to demonstrate concern. Good intentions—feelings-- count for everything, with no consideration of real world consequences.
This proposal of Hillary's is another example of the intellectual bankruptcy of the liberal left in this country. Do something, and we can feel good about it. Results may be unattainable, but we can congratulate ourselves for the effort. Oh, and give Hillary the credit. In fact give her credit for intending to put forth the effort by voting for her today.

That is the dirty game electoral politics has become - promise anything, with little or no regard for results. Give her an "A" for effort, and elect her to the most powerful electoral position available. After all, no pols are ever held to making their promises come true, are they? Is Obama being held to his promise to utilize public campaign financing? No, of course not, since he now sees an advantage in changing his mind. He made a pledge, which, for a politician, is no more than a feeling. After all, don't they all do it?