Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bush's Divine Right and Polling

Lately, I have seen a lot of posts around the web cheering Bush's low poll numbers. I am also happy when I see these low numbers because they reveal that the majority of people in America are reasonable.

However, I'm not sure Bush, his most devoted followers, his corporate sponsors, the religious right, or Karl Rove really care. If Bush cared at all about democracy, then of course he would be concerned about low approval of his policies, because in a democracy the sovereignty of the ruler should flow from the will of the people.

If Bush cared at all about the mandate that he so arrogantly declared he had won, then he would be worrying about low polling numbers because he would recognize his base of support crumbling around him--a clear indication that he had lost the mandate and should change his ways. As one Warring States Chinese philosopher (Mencius) declared, "Heaven speaks through the will of the people." Mencius was rationalizing the possibility of rebellion, but the statement applies equally to American style democracy.

Bush does not believe in democracy, nor does he believe that he needs a mandate. Rather, his religion is the divine right of kings, though perhaps in a twenty first century guise. How is that different from the Mandate of Heaven? From the perspective of the Mandate, a ruler's authority is never assured; it is dependent on his/her behavior, his/her ethics, his/her policies. Every thought and action must be in accord with Heaven. Of course, I am not here advocating a return to an ancient Chinese belief system, and I realize concepts such as the Mandate are used as much for legitimating purposes as they are for moral ones.

Divine right, as I understand it, is different. The ruler has the right to weild power because of the fact(or accident) of his/her birth, because of the lineage in which he/she is born.

Bush believes that he deserves power. It is his divine right, granted to him by his higher father. Everything he does as president is an attempt to restore the absolute authority of the ruler, without actually bringing back the title of the king. He said as much in one of his first press conferences after securing power in 2000: "It sure would be easier to be a dictator, he he he." We have all heard the assertions that the Bush family is related to European nobility--a connection that is obviously very important to them.

Now, I don't feel Bush--and it is not just Bush but who he represents--wants to return to the ancien regime of the 17th or 18th century; the goal is instead to create a new corporate elite, or perhaps to ensure that the corporate elite, of which Bush is a part, can perpetuate their power, and make it permanent.

Before November 2004, Bush needed to win a small majority, as did Kerry. At that point, polls were important. If Bush could just squeak by with a win, then they--the corporate elite--would be unstoppable in ramming through their agenda. They control the media. They control every branch of the government. Increasingly, they are attempting to control the courts.

So, I don't think Bush really cares that his numbers are low. To a certain extent, I believe him when he says: "I don't care about polls." Would someone who believed it was his destiny and his right to become president care about polls? Like the princely families from whom he claims descent, popularity is not an issue; what is, is keeping the masses in line even when they are not content, and diminishing the effectiveness of the opposition.

Bush does not need to win re-election--he can't. More important is for him to dismantle the protections that have been put in place to prevent permanent and absolute rule. The most critical factor to achieve that is to stack the courts with a bunch of clones.

Finally, I am not arguing that all is lost, or even that the polls mean nothing. We have to take that unpopularity and make it stick beyond lameduck presidents and corrupt congressmen who will probably go to jail. Beyond merely employing new frames, we need to completely discredit their vision and what attracts people to it.


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