Friday, January 27, 2012

The Idea of an "Outsider"

"The Republican presidential candidate with the line of credit at Tiffany's is making fun of the candidate with the Swiss bank account. The one who got wealthy working the inside Washington game is whaling away at the one who got wealthy working the angles of high finance." That quote was taken from an article just published on CBS's website and speaks to this year's theatrical production brought to us by the Republican party. The article itself though asks how can Gingrich get away with calling himself, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, an outsider, a man of the people, a commoner? The question is a good one and the answer is simple: he cannot; but nor can the other candidates.

The idea of being a Washington outsider reminds me a lot of William Cronon's critique of contemporary society's notion of the wilderness. In his famous book, The Trouble With Wilderness, Cronon argues (among other things) that humans can never experience true wilderness because wilderness is something completely void of human presence. This line of logic can also be applied to politics. In many ways, politicians try to appeal to constituents/the American public as being "one of them", but the truth is their position as an elected official prevents them as being "one of us". To be viewed as "one of us", a politician would have to leave his/her office.

If either one of the Republican Presidential nominees wanted to be one of us,  they should try, for example, living on a budget so tight they need to decide between dinner or fuel. Their world of presidential politics is vastly different from the world of reality and their talk i just that.

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