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Not a maverick at all

9/8/2008 5:52:00 AM

by David Arthur Walters


OPINION: People do not really want change.

 

John McCain wants to be known as a maverick, a calf or colt who has escaped from the herd, but he obviously runs with the Republican pack, with a little backbiting along the way.
 
A maverick range calf or colt is the property of the first cowboy who brands it, and Mr. McCain enjoys the Republican brand despite the brief spate of professed independence when he ran against President Bush. His catchword was REFORM then, yet his idea of reform was hardly radical or original, and amounted to little more than tinkering with the status quo, just as he would tinker a bit with it now. His Congressional record of going along with the pack with voice votes back then was certainly not something that a maverick would fain brag about, although he did so.
 
Mr. McCain’s greatest claim to maverick fame is his struggle for campaign finance reform, but neither his nor anyone else’s campaign finance reform has gotten us anywhere near the radical reform Cato obtained many centuries ago, as we could see, thanks to the press, from the lobbying parties in the conventicles around the latest convention centers.
 
John McCain is a good soldier, and a fairly decent family man in his current marriage. He might actually become a maverick if he thought outside of the box more often, but then he would be an orphaned colt instead of an old hand at his brand.
 
The fact is that mavericks rarely qualify for high offices anywhere, not in business nor politics nor church. True revolutions are the exception and their radical leaders lead relatively short lives until an establishment obtains stability again. The American Revolution, as the British say, was really a reform of the English System transplanted to the colonies, and not a revolutionary overthrow of the System.
 
One important qualification of a democratic-republican leader is his reputation for being a team player and for leading by serving. He is not a trouble-making nonconformist: he excels in conformity to the establishment he serves. Mr. McCain would conform to the opinion polls to win the election, although opinions do not make the truth; for example, over 80% of Republicans swear that his chosen vice president is competent, while only around 30% of Democrats believe so. Human judgment is fallible, especially where complex factors are at play: the truth may be known after the fact, and people will give themselves credit for correct guesses as if they were prophetic social scientists, or if incorrect, they will make legitimate or illegitimate excuses for not predicting what was impossible to predict in the first place.
 
The Democratic motto, CHANGE, is popular as usual, so Mr. McCain has gotten onto the band wagon and co-opted it to promise nothing other than change, though he has difficulty distinguishing his platform from that of the current administration.
 
Change amounts to little more than a rotation of parties or shuffling the chairs on the titanic deck. Perhaps what the masses want are new faces, better entertainment than the dull fare of the latest dullards. The masses like a really good show, but they really do not like genuine change very much unless it is another exciting war – but that is no change at all, not for a country that believes it owes it greatness to war. People do not want to be welcome mats for some maverick’s change backed up by the full force of government.
 
In any case the so-called maverick must take the oath of office, which is really a hypocritical oath since he vows to do the people’s will, which of course might vary from his campaign promises and partisan ideology. He will not buck the crowd very much, yet he will somehow keep his reputation as a maverick. Someone called him a maverick one day, a nice way to say he has a bad temper at times, and the term made him feel pretty good, as if he stood out from the crowd in a special way, even though American individuals generally think of themselves as special in a similar way. Wherever the crowd is found, we will find him straggling behind or alongside, or maybe running a nose ahead from time to time. Such is the nature of the race.
 
 

 

 



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