Elitism And Institutional Powers
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Elitism and Institutional Power
Wealth and Power in America
Elitism and Institutional Power
Most scholars would acknowledge that all societies are governed by elites in some form or another. Political scientists Harold Laswell and Daniel Lerner elaborate further by stating, “The discovery that in all large scale societies the decisions at any given time are typically in the hands of small number of people confirms a basic fact: Government is always government by the few, whether in the name of the few, the one, or the many” (cited in Dye, 2002).
Author Thomas Dye, in his book “Whos Running America? The Bush Restoration,” addresses several key sectors of power in which elitists exercise control over the many. These include banking, investments, insurance, law, media, government, and more (p.11). As part of the oligarchy process, great power is concentrated into the hands of a few people occupying key positions in the aforementioned sectors.
Government, being an oligarchy itself, is not without its elitists for sure. Positions in government provide one of the most important ingredients of elitism, and that is POWER. Governmental elitists direct, manage, and guide programs, policies, and activities of major institutions within society through their offices of authority. They possess the ability to affect and influence public policy over the masses, to some extent more than any other group.
Many politicians themselves are part of the national economic elite (Phillips, 2002). However, although many are financially prosperous, economics alone does not ensure the attainment of power. The combination of occupying key positions, having access to major institutions, and forming pivotal relationships help provide fundamental elements for elitism and institutional power.
The Office of the President of the United States is without doubt one key position which lends itself to influence and control over many areas of American life. Today, George W. Bush occupies that distinguished position.
President George W. Bush comes from a prominent family whose dynasty is rivaled only by that of the Kennedys. He is the forty third President of the United States and is currently serving his second term in office. Before entering politics he was a businessman with interests in the oil industry and major league baseball as a part owner of the Texas Rangers. Upon choosing to enter political life, he later became the forty-sixth governor of Texas, which subsequently lead to defeating Democrat Al Gore in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004 for the office of the Presidency (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2005).
George W. Bush or “W”, as he called by some in the media and political circles, is an example of an inheritor of politics, wealth, and power. George Ws grandfather, Prescott Bush, who became a U.S. Senator, was a managing partner in a high ranking investment firm on Wall Street, as well as being a chairman of the board for the Yale Corporation which oversees Yale University. Prescotts position and prosperity in the investment sector combined with senatorial placement and an extended position in the educational realm, afforded him to make some pivotal and influential connections (Dye, 2002).
These connections proved valuable as Prescott would call upon President Roosevelt to ignore the age requirements of the military in order to allow his second son George H. W. Bush to join the U.S. Navy. After completing his military tour of duty, George H.W. Bush (father of George W. Bush) enrolled at Yale University and graduated with an economics degree. Wanting to venture out “on his own,” George H. “obtained” a vice-president position in a Texas oil-drilling equipment firm called Dresser Industries, whose director just so happened to be, Prescott Bush.
George H. learned the intricacies of the industry and later formed several oil companies which made him a multimillionaire. After a successful run in the business world, George H. turned his sights to politics. He managed to become a United Nations ambassador under President Nixon, chairman of the Republican National Committee, ambassador to Peoples Republic of China, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice-President of the United States (under President Reagan) and eventually the 41st President of the United States (Dye, 2002).
His son George W. Bush, after several failures in the business sector but having gained valuable political experience during his fathers presidential campaigns, decided to pursue public office for the first time. In 1994, he ran for governor of Texas and won. In 2000, inspired to seek a higher office, George W. ran for President of the United States against Vice-President Al Gore. The election, which was surrounded in much controversy, resulted in George Ws recognition as the winner after a historic Supreme Court determination. George W. was re-elected again as President in 2004 and is currently serving his second term (Dye, 2002).
Throughout much of his life, his personal financial wealth came as a result of business connections inherited from his father and previous family members. These connections, in great part, came directly and indirectly from the oil industry and defense contractors. One website proclaims, “From root to branch, the Bush familys rise to power and wealth has gone hand in hand with the fortunes of the oil industry and the military-industrial complex” (Socialist Worker Online, 2004).
Like his father, George W. was also a member of the influential and elite secret society known as the Skull & Bones at Yale University. This organization chooses 15 men every year that come from the best families and are meant to stay connected in business and social circles throughout their lives (Socialist Worker Online, 2004).
The relationships formed by Bush within that society has allowed him to be surrounded by a formidable network of prominent figures. It is reported that George W. Bush has positioned at least five Bonesmen (name given for Skull and Bones members) within his administration, one of which is William Donaldson, who was chosen to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (CBS News Online, 2004).
Additionally, Bushs prior, and some say still ongoing connection to foreign oil producing giant Saudi Arabia, have provided many lucrative deals and funding for George W. and his father George H.W. Bush. He has strategically associated himself to powerful organizations such as the Carlyle Group (an international consulting group), through the auspices of his father as well.