June 24, 2004

milking aphids

Do the people lead, or do they follow?

It's not easy to tell sometimes. For example, the people of Colorado gave U.S. Senate candidate Mike Miles the victory in the Democratic State Assembly, which means that Miles' name will appear first on the August primary ballot. Nevertheless, the web page for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee doesn't even acknowledge that Mike Miles exists. Well before the primary, the DSCC is pretending that the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado is between state attorney general Ken Salazar and the eventual winner of the Republican primary.

The DSCC, led by a bunch of current Senators, is of course free to support any candidate it wants to. It can pretend that Ken Salazar has already won the primary election. But instead, DSCC spokesman Brad Woodhouse (never trust a man named Brad) defends its snub of Miles by arguing that, really, the outcome of the primary is not in doubt, and that to acknowledge the reality of Mike Miles' existence would be ignoring reality. This sounds more surreal to me the more I think about it.

Most of us think that in this country, "the people" rule. That's what it means to be a democracy, right? After all, in an election, "the people" "choose" the winner, who becomes a public "servant" who "does the will of the people" while in office.

All of this isn't entirely true, of course. The people follow, most of the time, and the most successful politicians are those who groom their constituents most effectively, like a shepherd tends his sheep, or an ant milks his aphids.

The DSCC is milking their aphids in Colorado. The Commission on Presidential Debates was milking aphids when it refused to allow Ralph Nader to debate George W. Bush and Al Gore. "Come on little aphids," say the political elite, "give us your sweet honeydew, by selecting from among the wonderful alternatives we've provided for you."

And the people lead, by making "their" choice.

Posted by Carey at June 24, 2004 07:20 PM

I guess one could argue that good leadership sometimes means simplifying / winnowing people's choices for them (it came in handy at a restaurant tonight). But these examples seem like power consolidation, rather than serving the public interest.

I say: Fewer aphids. More chicks.

Posted by: Nick G. at June 27, 2004 03:20 AM