The demands of contemporary campaign financing provide strong incentives for politicians to euphemize business issues.
Perhaps foremost among the reasons for politicians to euphemize business issues is that the terminology of Metabusiness is more appealing than straight talk to the corporate ear.
Today, with almost inconceivably immense sums of money required to mount a political campaign, Americas corporations, their top managers and major shareholders, and the assorted investment bankers, consultants, accountants, lawyers, and other professionals who derive their income from servicing them represent one of the few funding sources with the resources to make a campaign viable.
Politicians have an almost instinctual knack for cozying up to those who have something they need. It is therefore hardly surprising that we are currently experiencing an outpouring of political discourse framed in such a manner as to appeal to corporate interests.
The techniques have been used so many times of late as to have become almost ritualized:
First, build a symbolic association in the public mind between government and all that is oppressively large, remote, arrogant, inept, nonsensical, fussily rule-minded, and stifling of ideas and initiative in our society. Then counterpose business (actually Metabusinessoften further abstracted and euphemized as "private initiative" or "the marketplace") as the source of all that is lively, alert, efficient, and responsive to peoples wishes.
Once these images are in place, whatever specific policies are in question require little debate. The symbolic themes are so familiar and so compelling that hardly anyone so much as pauses to consider whether characteristics like bureaucracy, ineptitude, remoteness, and arrogance might also apply to todays corporations.
For the participating politicians, this approach appears to be providing nearly as welcome a windfall as the discovery of a wealthy great aunt.
As for corporate leaders' interests, today's Metabusiness talk has provided them with a useful rhetorical facade, functionally equivalent to the sleek office towers behind which they hide the actual clutter and chaos of their cubicles.
The mere perception that they are alert and efficient can often be enough to get them their wayand has in fact recently done so on a wide range of issues, from environmental protection to safety standards for new drugs and consumer products.
(c) COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.