This past Saturday night, President and Mrs. Obama attended a dinner sponsored by the Alfalfa Club. (Note the motto. I pay my bills promptly, so I guess that makes me a sucker.) What is the Alfalfa Club? It is, Dear Readers, a 99 year old organization of a few hundred very wealthy people who host a dinner once a year in Washington, DC. At the dinner, the “elect a President” as part of the entertainment. Past Electees include Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr. Minority men have been eligible for Alfalfa Club membership since 1974; women have been eligible since 1994.
At this point, if you’re thinking this doesn’t exactly sound like Mr. President’s crowd, understand it is “Alfalfa Club Tradition” that the President (actual President) is invited. Further, the two notable boycotting Presidents in recent times have been Jimmy Carter (he o’ the one term) and Bill Clinton (for one year until they allowed women, including his Secretary of State). So, all things considered, it is understandable that Mr. President (the current) has scribbled this event into his calendar in pen.
In the spirit of the 13th Fairy, this year’s Alfalfa Club Dinner had an uninvited guest who was less than mannerly—the Occupy Movement protested outside the dinner, joining the reporters in the lobby. There’s been a lot of discussion and open-ended analysis of the Occupy Movement and what they want and what their goals are. There have been broadly two reactions to this analysis: 1. Why, yes—what are these folks after??? And 2. Duh. You either get it or you don’t. And if you get it, you can’t imagine how you don’t get it, except the “I don’t get it crowd” never gets anything so no big surprise they don’t get this.
If you’re wondering at this point—who exactly is the Alfalfa Club? Well, keep wondering. In the spirit of Skull and Bones and other such come one come all organizations, the Alfalfa Club is private, they don’t publicize who they are, and their Membership list is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Nice.
I suppose to some people, the idea of a small group of super wealthy predominantly white male elites (maybe, maybe not, who knows?) “choosing” the next President (or replacing the current) at an exclusive luxury dinner is just “How the World Works.” The whole idea that the Electorate is actually deciding anything is hippie naivete or that a little person is ever going to get somewhere on merit is a bedtime story for the slave class. The Circus half of Bread and Circus.
Well, call me a naïve hippie (trust me I’ve been called worse), but I actually find the Alfalfa Club story, their ability to treat Presidents like the Black Sheep kid in the family called to Sunday Dinner, and their practice of Electing a President (with scary predictive power), to be a bit disturbing. OK, I’m a Wet Blanket, a Spoil Sport, the Rich and Powerful want to play Autocracy, they’ve been doing it for years, Daddy and Granddaddy did it! I’m like the mean people who don’t like Fox Hunting and Elementary School Math Problems about Slaves doing chores. I’m probably one of those uptight people who is scandalized by Calista Gingrich’s Tiffany’s account balance. (Right on all counts.)
So, my “interpretation” (is there really need to interpret?) of the Occupy Movement is they are a pro-democracy movement. Their concern is that our country is moving more and more in the direction of a Plutocracy—which prolly sound pretty great if you’re rich, if you’re one of the One Percent. If you’re one of the 99 Percent, not so much of a good deal for you, eh? No, not really.
This is one of the great cultural divides in this country, lining up with the Continental Divides—folks from the Colonies and their Backlot Unit believing that Natural Leaders are identified by their bank account balance. Democracy is supposed to protect the 99 Percent, afford some leveling of the playing field. But I guess if you’re one of the One Percent, you see it as Clipping Your Wings. Hm, . . . . I think the point of Democracy is to Clip those Wings.
And for good reason. There’s been a lather-rinse-repeat on this, a Cycle, a Turn of the Wheel, a Pendulum Swing. And the 99 Percent have always prevailed. People numbers are better than numbers on the balance sheet? I guess so, that’s how it’s always worked. The people numbers are way more interesting that the balance sheet numbers. The balance sheet numbers can keep you warm at night (it’s called a power bill) but they’re not much fun at a dinner party. OK you may think they are fun at a dinner party, but everyone else thinks the numbers are boring and you are boring.
That’s probably why the Park Service has let the protesters stick around DC. DC is supposed to be the Capitol of our National, the Heart of Democracy. And I don’t think the typical NPS Officer got into the job for the arrests and evictions. I think those guys would rather let things be and tell you about the World War II Memorial.
So, I’m a naïve hippie egghead Hermione Granger. And I believe in Democracy. And I believe so does the Occupy Movement. I get that some people find that impenetrable.
To Election Day, whenever you may find it. 🙂