VF television critic James Wolcott is sad Mitt Romney dropped out of the race for a very understandable reason.
[His] fateful decision this January not to pursue the presidency for a third futile time deprived those of us in the bleachers of a rare-ish opportunity to watch a representative of the 1 percent in plastic action. It is not often we get to study how a scion moves, behaves, and simulates reflective thought under changeable conditions, and to discover what pops out of such a prize specimen when he assumes the commoners aren’t listening (as in Romney’s notorious 47 percent talk to millionaire donors, captured on video by a heroic bartender). Forsaking the citizenry to remain among his own kind, Romney can now rejoin his comrades and breathe a sigh of relief. Like celebrities, the very rich feel most comfortable and kin with each other—fellow members of an exclusive club that converges upon Davos, Sun Valley, Dr. Doom’s castle lair, and similar hierarchical retreats in an arrow swarm of private jets.
Wolcott is spot-on about what he is talking about. And, just as obviously, Wolcott has no reason to fret. The Republican nominee will be even more of a one-percenter than Empty-Suit Mitt. Born into a family dynasty of unimaginable power and wealth, sitting on the boards of countless elite corporations for no reason other than the fact of his last name, and (unlike Mitt, it must be said) not knowing what an honest day’s work would look like if it slapped him in the face, Jeb Bush is not just a premier member of the Establishment. He is a walking embodiment of what our bipartisan elites believe in: hereditary dynasties; tax cuts for the rich and wage cuts for the working class; an absolute contempt of white and black working-class Americans; an obsession with Latin America (he holds a degree in Latin American Studies) and importing as many low-wage Hispanic workers as possible to displace the whites and black workers that the elites have judged as unworthy.
True, Romney was also born to a dynasty, but the Romney name does not even come close to the wealth, power and prestige of the Bush name. And Mitt did work hard to earn his millions, even if he did benefit from all the connections as befitting an elite. The Bushes do hide their elitism better than Mr. 47%, it is true — but they are far more representative of the dysfunctional, insular elites of our time that bear far closer resemblance to the intertwining European royal families of the late Middle Ages than they do with the enlightened and sorely-missed ruling class of the American early-mid 20th Century. Wolcott will not be disappointed.
And this really is bipartisan. As conservative writer Matthew Continetti observes, it is just the same on the limousine-liberal side of things, using a woman named Mellody Hobson as a textbook example of how good life is if you have the right connections and sit on the right boards. Continetti is strangely defensive of Republican elites in his article, but I don’t understand why: there is very little difference between the two camps. Really, other than who gets appointed to the Supreme Court, will there be any substantive difference between a Hillary presidency and a Jeb presidency? Isn’t that the whole point of those two being selected to the nomination — that our ruling class wins either way, and our working class loses?
Continetti observes that most of these Davos-set people did not get to their positions by breaking laws. That’s true, but only because they are the ones who write the laws and make the rules to benefit themselves and to screw the proles. Surely, Continetti knows this — he’s written about these people before. Lucious and Cookie Lyon may have committed felonies to build up their Empire, which makes for much better TV… but generally speaking, elites in real life do not build up their fortunes that way. If someone like Hillary magically makes a fortune off of a real estate investment, there won’t be a corpse at the bottom of a river somewhere to explain it. Rather, accounting tricks and loophole exploitations will make the whole thing perfectly legal. Why hand a politician a suitcase full of money when so many legal ways to bribe them instead have been created? Just ask Jeb — by this point, his backers have used pretty much all of them.
We are being returned to a more medieval economic system of lords and serfs, of hereditary ruling dynasties born into lives of leisure and of plebians forever toiling just to break even. And we are being returned to this system intentionally by the people represented by Jeb and Hillary. But I suppose Wolcott does have a reason to despair after all: this is being done not through exciting murder and theft, but through boring conferences and chats on the golf course during this or that economic summit. It is not Empire. It would make for the most boring — and depressing — TV show of all time.