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Posts Tagged ‘Walter Russel Mead’

VAL 2016 | Om Hillary Clinton vinner valet beror det till stor del på att man lyckats knäcka koden för hur en modern politisk kampanjorganisation skall se ut.

The American Interest januari-februari 2016

Bill Clinton och Hillary Clinton har sakta men säkert över åren byggt upp vad professor Walter Russel Mead på The American Interest kallar “The First Postmodern Political Machine”.

The contrast between the apparent inevitability that surrounded Hillary Clinton’s procession toward the Democratic presidential nomination for so long and the air of scandal and suspicion that seems to trail behind her wherever she goes is striking. And it points to something important: Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate borne aloft on a wave of popular enthusiasm. She is no JFK, no Ronald Reagan. She is no George Wallace or William Jennings Bryan. The marching bands processing before her have to be paid; she can’t fill vast halls with cheering throngs like Bernie Sanders or, heaven help us, Donald Trump. But she soldiers gamely on, determined to struggle through the exhausting and degrading routine of the eternal campaign.

[…]

But determination and grit aren’t the only forces behind her. To understand the Clinton candidacy and the odd mix of acceptance and resistance it conjures up in the party, one has to understand that she represents something that is at once very old and very new in American politics. She is a machine politician, but the machine behind her is a new kind of American political machine: a postmodern one.

[…]

There seem to be four pillars for this new kind of edifice.

First, there are the unintended consequences of the dysfunctional campaign finance “reforms” over the past thirty years that gutted traditional party organizations while empowering billionaires. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are, institutionally speaking, mere shadows of their former selves.

[…]

Second, there is the synergy created by the intersection of the Power Couple and the Twenty-second Amendment, which limited Presidents to two terms. Term-limited Presidents have a hard time convincing donors that further gifts will result in future benefits. This is a problem the Clintons do not have.

Hillary Clinton is the first person who can convince power brokers that she’s ready to make the transition from FLOTUS to POTUS.

[…]

What the Clintons have figured out is that a successful Power Couple can stay at the top of national life for decades—two terms for the first member, an interregnum of unspecified length followed, hopefully, but two terms for the second member, by which time the torch may have passed to a new generation.

[…]

Third, the Foundation vehicle allows the Clintons to attract enormous sums of money from foreign as well as domestic donors. Unlike ordinary politicians, the Clintons can take money from foreign individuals, states and firms without breaking US laws. They can even sidestep much if not all of the odium that comes from running an American campaign with foreign money. Raising money to fight breast cancer in Botswana is a much more creditable activity than taking political contributions from an African mining company with a dubious reputation. …] This is honest graft at work: one hires someone who is a reasonably qualified administrator for the program, but who is also plugged into the network of activists and operatives needed to keep the permanent campaign up and running. One can also spread the money around: the Clinton Foundation can make grants to other like minded non-profits, providing good jobs to loyal supporters.

Patronage in the service of doing good, that can effectively and legally use foreign donations in ways that build a powerful domestic political force: this might not be up there with the discovery of fire or the wheel as an invention that changes history, but it is not an insignificant contribution to the art of American governance.

[…]

Fourth, the Clintons have captured the power of networks. Like Facebook, the Clinton network is powerful because almost everyone is part of it. Since 1992, when the Clintons stormed out of Arkansas to take the White House, they have been at the center of world power and fame. Everybody who is anybody knows them or knows of them. They can introduce anybody to anybody; they can put together the most star-studded guest list for any purpose. The power of celebrity gives them the ability to publicize and glamorize almost anything; there are powerful reasons to be part of the network that includes virtually everyone in the media, in government, in finance, in business or academia that anyone wants to know or do business with.

[…]

Many find something deeply repellent in the ways that the new machine facilitates the integration of global and American politics and lobbying. Many will denounce the self-interested mingling of charity and political power-broking; others will gasp at the depth and degree of conflict of interest that a system like this inevitably entails. All these problems are real, and the Clintons, whatever their virtues, have never been at their best when it comes to disentangling the public good and their political interests.

[…]

Even the power of a great political machine cannot (yet?) deliver electoral victory on a national scale. Barack Obama (who seems increasingly interested in setting up a rival postmodern machine when his own presidency comes to an end) can tell us about that. In the old days, machine politicians had a hard time winning national campaigns; people out in the less corrupted (or, if you prefer, less sophisticated) flyover states aren’t always happy about big city politicians with big city connections.

Tidskriftsomslag: The American Interest, vol. XI, nummer 3, januari-februari 2016.

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