One of my favorite periods in history is the 17th century. You have The Thirty Years War and the English Civil War just in the first half of the century. The second half was not quite as exciting, but you have the founding and flourishing of the American colonies, the Glorious Revolution, the Battle of Vienna and the Salem Witch Trials. Then you have the laundry list of men in arts and letters that continue to cast a shadow over civilization. The 17th century was an exciting time to be alive.
The thing that always jumps out to me, particularly with regards to the evolution of the colonies in this period, is how much merit counted to the people of the age. We tend to think of this as being the age of royalty and inherited position, but merit was critical within the ruling class and within general society. Prince Rupert was on the wrong side of the English Civil War, but he was a talented general and outlived pretty much everyone. It mattered to his contemporaries, his peers and the people that he was a talented man.
Of course, when the American colonies split off, merit became the coin of the realm. A man could not have a career in politics without first having a career in something useful. Even the sons of the elite were expected to go into the military or the law before starting a life in politics. The result was that rich guys were common in government. The super rich of the 19th century ran for office, were governors and Congressman and participated directly in party politics. The rule was, you got rich so you could go into politics.
That is not the way things work today. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This story about Marco Rubio’s opponent for his Senate seat is a good example of the modern politician.
For Murphy, the newfound role as the Democrat’s Most Eligible Candidate is extraordinary; and not just because he’s only been a Democrat since 2011.
Murphy’s rise is extraordinary because of how little he seems to have accomplished to get here.
A child of divorce, Murphy spent his formative years living with his father, Thomas P. Murphy, Jr., who built a multimillion dollar construction empire from scratch. Thomas Murphy made sure his son attended private schools including an elite prep academy in the Northeast, The Lawrenceville School. The school’s alumni include five Governors, three Congressmen, a Senator, two Pulitzer Prize winners and a Nobel Laureate. The school has also produced an array of business titans in its storied history.
Patrick Erin Murphy circa 2010, however, did not seem destined to join their ranks.
A star athlete in high school and college, injuries kept him from pursuing that further, opting instead for a more functional degree in business administration from the University of Miami. His time at UM was marred by a drunken brawl at a South Beach night club that left him with a mugshot and a black eye. After graduating in 2006, he joined Deloitte & Touche as an audit assistant. He did not meet the minimum requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant in Florida, opting instead to apply for a license in Colorado, even though he did not live or work there. He applied in Colorado because the requirements were lower.
Before gaining approval in Colorado, Murphy took the licensing exam multiple times before passing it. Even with a CPA license in Colorado, his opportunities in Florida were limited because his license was not valid in the Sunshine State.
In other words, Patrick Murphy is a moron without a single accomplishment to his name, other than having won the lucky sperm contest. If his father had not been rich, Patrick Murphy would probably be wearing a blue vest down at the local Walmart. Of course, his opponent, Marco Rubio, is a feckless airhead as well. He has never had a job that did not come with a government check. The race for one of Florida’s two Senate seats will be a battle between pretty boy morons sponsored by billionaires.
This is not particularly unusual. The second in command for the Democrats in the House has never worked a day outside of government. Another House Democrat leader, Chris Van Hollen, went into politics right out of college. Like Patrick Murphy, Van Hollen is as dumb as a plank. If not for the family connections, he would be running a kiosk at the mall. That is the story all over the House and the Senate. Massachusetts has a Senator, who drove an ice cream truck, before getting into politics. His nickname is Mr. Frosty.
It is tempting to dismiss it all as the inevitable degeneracy of democracy. The word “kakistocracy” is common on the dissident right. That is not really what is happening. Instead, these nitwits we see in politics are basically actors hired by billionaires and corporate interests to stand in for them in the House and Senate. Chuck Schumer is a genius, but everyone in DC knows he is the Senator of Goldman Sachs. Marco Rubio is owned by Norman Brahman, the Florida billionaire. Paul Ryan is in his job because the money men behind the GOP know he will do what he is told.
The most obvious example is Barak Obama. He was stumbling around jobless until rich liberals in Chicago found him wandering the streets as a race hustler. Like casting directors or Hollywood agents, they discovered a talent they could make into a star. He was given the right back story, trained to play the role and taught how to read his lines from the teleprompter. Obama is a nice enough person and not the dumbest guy to occupy the White House, but he does not have a thought in his head. He does what he is told, like any other actor.
Our politics have become a play. We see the actors and hear some of the stage directions, but we never see the writers or the directors. The producers who fund these things are known, but no one really knows much about them. All the attention is on the stars and the supporting actors. If you have the right look and you can learn to say your lines convincingly, you can get rich being an actor playing a politician. Even the B-actors become millionaires. If you cannot do anything useful and you want to get rich, go into politics.