“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Public opinion matters a great deal in the American system of government, just as it does in any democracy. But it sure isn’t the only thing that matters, as the following true story demonstrates. It’s what I call A Tale Of Two Constituencies.
Before I get deeper into my tale, though, my reader should know that in the land this tale comes from, the President had been elected and re-elected on not only a progressive platform, but arguably with the most populist rhetoric in 40 years. He had run his campaigns on fighting for the middle class, protecting the vulnerable from harm, taxing the wealthy, and taking on the wealthy special interests who were harming our economy. His re-election campaign had bragged about taking on Wall Street, and harshly criticized the vulture capitalist business practices of his opponent. And because of running these kinds of campaign, this President won 2 decisive victories in a row, becoming the first President of his center-left party to win a clear majority of the votes more than once since the 1930s.
So that gives you a sense of the kind of land this was, and the kind of President they had. Now for my tale. You see there two constituencies I wanted to compare and contrast in this democratic land governed by this center-left populist…
The first was extremely small in number, depending on how you count it only a few thousand people at the most. They represented the least popular institution in American society, even less popular in many polls than the Congress, which was saying something in a land where the Congressional leadership had been rated as less popular than head lice and root canal surgery. The group in question was widely blamed for an economic collapse more severe than any in 80 years, and was widely believed by journalists covering them, lawyers for many different clients who had dealt with them, and ex-prosecutors following their practices to have engaged in massive and wide-scale fraud on top of an estimated million counts of perjury in just one scam that they pulled off (something referred to by the media as robo-signing). They were reviled by every major bloc of American voters, including those of the conservative party as well as by all the key blocs of swing voters. And to top it all off, with their money and their rhetoric, they overwhelmingly supported the losing candidate in the Presidential election.