I've been thinking about this: What if the career of a politician was dead?
I was on this track. I don't come from money, or a "noble" family--though I have the ancestry-just not the pedigree. But I was following the poor man's route to power. I worked for my Congressman, I went to a school for politics. If I'd continued down that road, I'd have gotten a gig as political staffer on the Hill. From there, the law degree, and then the campaign trail.
Why do people become politicians? Well two obvious reasons. You have an opinion, and you have an all consuming need for adulation/respect/support. Some people might say power--but I think that's missing the point. Public power confers adulation/respect/support ("ARS"). It serves no other purpose as far as I can tell. I differentiate "Public Power," from "Private Power" because many of the most powerful actors almost never have perceived political clout. But they're not the people we love to hate. They're the people we read biographies about twenty years after the fact.
As always, I'm taking forever to get to the point. What do Sarah Palin, Elliot Spitzer, Tim Russert and Howard Dean all have in common? They were all career politicians who are now pundits. Sarah weirdly, but presciently gave up the governorship of Alaska, Spitzer resigned after a marital scandal, Lou Dobbs went Teabagger and had to quit CNN, and Howard Dean lost the 2004 primary. Sarah just finished her first novel, and is on her to way to paying her legal bills with solid gold napkins. Spitzer writes a column at Slate (which I love by the way). Dobbs, has a conservative radioshow called "Mr. Independent," and might run for president, and Howard Dean, though still a career politician now periodically hosts the Rachel Maddow Show (all respect to the former governor, he did a terrible job).
All of this to say, Sarah Palin seems to be right. "Going Rogue," is the way to actually effect American politics. Oh, to be sure, all of the above figures are highly polarized, unserious contenders for office, but that doesn't mean they don't effect policy. In much the way that Rush, and O'Reilly have dictated conservative politics for the last twenty years, popular pundits have much more "Public Power" than any save the president himself. Think about it. Harry Reid can't say what he thinks--he has too much to lose, too much to risk. Every public statement he makes has to be extremely careful. But Howard Dean can call it like he sees it. Being dubbed a wacko after his "The Dean Scream" (see the wikipedia entry) though ending his presidential aspirations gave him the license to speak freely. Afterall, now thateveryone knows he's no longer "serious," what does he have to lose?
Which is why I say that we still need more liberal pundits on the airwaves. MSNBC, where's my contract?