Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Political Capital" ... yawn.

As the health reform debate continues, the pundits are again throwing out a tired cliché. The left is saying that Obama squandered his "political capital" by not acting decisively on progressive issues. The right props up grassroots campaigns using corperate money and then says that Obama's has less "political capital" because his is further left than a few angry government skeptics.

Where the hell did this expression come from?

Well, Bush used it after the 2004 election to derscribe the strength of his mandate. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style." he said after beating Kerry. But that was not the first time Bush used the term. As in 2004 by less than 2 percent in the popular vote
Etymologically, the word "capital" comes from the latin capitalis which means "of the head." In that sense, the political capital is the "seat of goverment." In another way, the political capital can be ascertained by an actual counting of heads, by means of an election or a census. This meaning is where the expressions "capital goods" and "capital gains" come from, because capital is the actual count of animal stock. Historically, "head" has also become synonymous with "life" thus giving way to such terms as "capital punishment".

What is surprising about how Bush entertains the idea is his emphasis on spending political capital. He probably likes the way it paints him as a CEO-presidentconnections within and: characteristics such trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperationcivil engagement, including decreased voter turnout, lower public meeting attendance, less involvement in political parties and social committees. social interaction and thus civic discussion about daily life. I, for one, am definitively guilty of bowling alone. They provide a roadmap for understanding how diversity and civics intertwine and perhaps help us understand a little better the ebb and flow of political engagement. A recent article by Thomas B. Edsall in the New Republic suggests that the Tea Party Movement is actually an example of an organization founded on some of the more negative characteristics of social capital such as protective exclusivity, distrust in institutions, and decreased altruism. Very interesting shit if you ask me.

No comments:

Post a Comment