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Paul Elisha: Hubris by any other name...

The ancient Greeks had a word for it: “HYBRIS;”  their term for the sin of “excessive pride or arrogance.”  They believed it resulted from too much prosperity without ethical restraint.  This bred “nemesis” or public indignation that demanded punishment.  Today, we call it “hubris” but it still means the same and begets the same response.

The subject has been painfully called to mind by a withering article in the (August 27th) issue of the New Yorker Magazine, by Jane Mayer, the magazine’s 2011 George Polk Award winning reporter, who’s covered politics for them since 1995.  In this bitingly revealing expose’ of egotistically inspired political ‘giving,’ by some of the nation’s wealthiest supporters of issues and candidates, titled: “Schmooze or Lose,” Mayer indicts a number of super-rich political game players for literally holding-out on the largesse they were expected to provide for President Obama’s re-election campaign, purely because of pique at his failure to massage their egos, in requesting it.  She points out that with the new campaign rules, provided by a heavily pro-Republican leaning Supreme Court, this childish game of ego-driven ‘hold out’ could well change the substance of the American political system , for generations or perhaps forever.

During his first candidacy, by successfully organizing the use of thousands of small, citizen-given contributions, combined with the heavy-money-artillery of super-wealthy donors, to win election, President Obama figured he could then successfully move to a more citizen-driven system of financing Presidential elections…  in keeping with his philosophy of a publicly-financed national election process.  His plan was literally defeated by naked, ‘stroke-me-nice-or-else,’ Hubris, of the very liberals he counted on, to help achieve the historic change.  The ‘schmooze-me-or-lose-me’ rebellion includes some of the wealthiest and most magnanimous supporters of liberal causes in the past, who now hold out, out of sheer egotistical pique.

Corporate coordinated and funded, Religious-Right driven ‘super-PACs’ are now poised to inundate media outlets with barrages of bogus bunk, designed to bury the Obama Presidency in a plethora of negative untruths.  Mayer reports that as of this month, “at least thirty-three American billionaires had each given a quarter of a million dollars, or more, to groups whose aim is to defeat Obama.”  The billionaire Koch brothers have amassed twenty-five million dollars in advertising time, for their misleading mischief.  Meanwhile, Obama loyalists have given a fraction of this to opposing PACs, while some of his wealthiest previous backers now say they oppose such procedures, altogether.

A super-conservative Supreme Court has given unmitigated-millionaires of Right-wing villainy an overwhelming gift of anonymity.  Already dangerously under-funded, unless the wealthiest backers of liberal causes join with thousands of ordinary contributors, to amass the necessary funds to counter them, they will have facilitated victory for the very evils they dread most. 

The time has come for the wealthiest of America’s most vociferous liberals to anoint another-greater kind of anonymity; the meritorious mantle of modesty.  The great French writer, Andre Maurois has written: “Modesty and unselfishness are virtues that men praise--- and pass by.”  The greatest gift that truly generous American men and women of today can give to their country, regardless of their wealth or prominence, is a monetary contribution, to support the campaign and beliefs of the candidate of their choice, according to their financial capability but expecting no response of special appreciation, whatsoever.  In his Report to the Presidential Committee on Administrative Management, in January, 1937, then President Roosevelt’s Chairperson, Louis Brownlow wrote: “The President’s aides should possess high competence, great vigor, and a passion for anonymity.”   Those who now donate their competence, vigor and resources to a President or prospective President should also add a “passion for anonymity…” because this  most precious form of democracy: “of, by and for the people” deserve it… and nothing less.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.