There has, for some time, been a political elite in the nation. The first name that will pop into the head of many here is “Kennedy.” But for the purposes of our discussion today, let’s go with Roosevelt.
And of course, today, we still have what constitutes something of a nobility class, the professional political class that has strayed from representing, to reigning.
Faith in government is at historically low levels. Indeed, contrast faith in government today with faith in the government in the era of FDR. The vast expansion of government under FDR was popular because it was seen to be accomplishing significant feats. The vast expansion of government today brings us Obamacare that cannot even get a website up and running, and a TSA that is good at shaking down Granny, but hasn’t found a single terrorist.
Look at the biography of Barack Obama. Education wise, he’s highly credentialed. Just like his predecessor, George Bush. And his predecessor, Bill Clinton. But aside from working in government, what did any of them do? Bush at least worked in the world of MLB. But for all three, the primary path of success was work in government.
Let’s compare a bit to another fellow who saw government service as the path to success.
- attended Harvard-studied biology, boxed
- NY state assembly
- author of a respected book on naval history
- cattle rancher
- NYPD police commissioner
- Assistant Secretary of the Navy
- Fought in the Spanish-American War
- Governor of NY
- Vice President
Of course, that’s Theodore Roosevelt. His son, Teddy Jr, was no slouch either. He was an enormously successful businessman, fought in World War I, helped to found the American Legion, also served as a NY assemblyman and assistant SecNav. He served as Governor of Puerto Rico, and Governor-General of the Philippines. He returned to business (again, very successfully) and went on to valorous service in World War II until his untimely death in Normandy. And he was awarded the Medal of Honor (which his father would also eventually be awarded).
My point is this. There was obviously a privileged class of political elite back then, much as today. But the expectation then was that when much was given, much was expected in return, in terms of service, and hard work. And sheer competence.
I suspect a primary source of dissatisfaction with today’s political elite is the fact that they’re good at getting into government, but not good at actually doing anything.