Bring Back the Smoke Filled Rooms

This is a textbook example of why We, the People, no longer matter in American politics, from Jonathan Martin at The Politico.

It could be an episode of Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.” Mitt Romney was announced from the podium Saturday afternoon as the winner of the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Straw Poll,” narrowly edging Mike Huckabee.

But it turns out that the 5,775-vote total included thousands of people who had voted online, and could have become eligible by paying as little as $1 to join FRC Action, the legislative action arm of Family Research Council.

Although the audience at the Washington Hilton was not told, the crowd favorite among the 952 attendees who voted in person turned out to be Huckabee by a mile. He got 51 percent of the in-person votes, compared to just 10 percent for Mitt Romney.

This led one rival to suggest the headline, “Romney Win$ Straw Poll.”

I would just love to ask some of the people who actually attended the FRC shindig how they feel about this. Used, one suspects.

I’ve been wondering why there doesn’t seem to be more movement toward Huckabee in the ranks of white conservative evangelicals. It turns out that whenever white conservative evangelicals get a close look at Huckabee, they flock to him like pigeons to bread crumbs. It’s the leadership of the “values voters” movement who aren’t flocking. I can only guess why that might be, but I suspect that power and money are factors, somehow.

The various Powers That Be like to go through the motions of asking us ordinary people what we think, but ultimately they don’t care. Eventually they’ll settle on whatever candidates promise them the most perks and influence, and then they’ll go about marketing those candidates to the rest of us, like toothpaste. Meanwhile, any candidate who fails to meet with their approval simply will not get the media exposure he or she needs to be competitive.

Note that I’m not saying I want Huckabee to be the nominee. Underneath Huckabee’s nice-guy exterior is a five-alarm whackjob. The point is that what went on at the FRC exemplifies how we’re all being jerked around.

Once upon a time there were no presidential primaries. The nominee was chosen at the party conventions, usually through a process that combined the opinions of delegates with behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing in the famous smoke-filled rooms. States began holding primaries as a way to “popularize” the nominating process. But the people at the top of the power pyramid have learned how to jerk the rest of us around and manipulate what “we” think. Most people go to polls knowing no more about the politicians they vote for than they do about what’s really in their toothpaste. All they know is that it tastes like mint and the people in the television ads have real nice teeth.