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April 20, 2016

Pardon me for asking but I’d really like to know what was in those speeches Hillary Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs.

I’m being perverse and peckish, I know, but I’d also like to know what’s in those 28 pages about possible Saudi involvement in 9/11 that have been withheld from the 9/11 Commission’s Report. Clinton’s defenders say she wouldn’t have said much of anything controversial in front of Goldman and they may well be right. But then if pols didn’t sometimes go off script among wealthy supporters we’d never know what Mitt Romney thinks about the forty-seven percent. I was glad to know about that.

Here’s a recent headline and lede featuring Goldman, from Reuters:

 

It happens, even when doing God’s work, that you are sometimes delivered unto sin and temptation.

My focus here though is on the things elites don’t want us to see. This has been one subtheme of the rise of Republican outsiders and of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Many regular folk have come to the conclusion that the nation’s political oligarchies curry popular favor but do not serve the public’s interests. Considering the ongoing dividends of the Iraq War, the Great Recession and bank (but not much mortgagee) bailouts, they have a point. The 2016 election was supposed to be Oligarchies: The Final Battle between the Bushes and Clintons. But Jeb! is long gone and Hillary has been badly damaged by a 74 year old who isn’t even a member of her party.

In 1994 a volume of the late Christopher Lasch’s essays was published under the title The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy.  Lasch wrote of the seclusion of America’s professional and informational elites, their abandonment of social intercourse with the working class. Elites had their own priorities, their concerns were often international (Lasch wrote before the full impact of globalization), while they had come to see their social inferiors’ concerns as local and petty. Intermediary institutions beyond the home and workplace, like political parties and neighborhood social groups, deteriorated. The language of community provided by religion was being lost. Such deterioration has only been exacerbated as our neighborhoods themselves have become more stratified. It’s easier for the upper class to ignore the lower classes when they infrequently encounter them on a basis of equality.

One popular meme during the early crowded Republican debates was to call the first of the two debates of the day “the kid’s table.” That was the wrong analogy. There’s a lot that America’s political and economic elites don’t want the kids to see. We’re all at the kid’s table.

Goldman Sachs, Hillary Clinton

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