The Political Socialisation of Presidents and Politicians

Barack Obama quoted in The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 63. The demands of fundraising for US politicians are exceptional but I assume a similar process can be found elsewhere, as an elite gradually becomes one’s reference group if this was not already the case. How else to explain the belief of UK MPs that they are poorly paid?

Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means—law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. . . . I found myself avoiding certain topics during conversations with them, papering over possible differences, anticipating their expectations. . . . I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population—that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve.

And intelligence agencies contribute to that socialisation as well. From pg 87 of the same book:

Perhaps the most telling example of the relationship between President Obama and the Deep State comes from a March 2015 interview of John Brennan, his frequently embattled CIA director. Obama has shown Brennan great loyalty through two presidential terms. How did Brennan repay that loyalty—with a humble demonstration of gratitude and respect, perhaps? Obama, he said, did “not have an appreciation” of national security when he came into office, but with tutelage by himself and other experts “he has gone to school and understands the complexities.” The tone of headmasterly condescension is unmistakable, giving the listener ample grounds to wonder who is really in charge, the president or his national security complex. It is the inner workings of that national security complex that we shall turn to next.


Categories: Rethinking The World

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