News Release

How Clinton’s Elite Corruption Breeds Trump’s Demagoguery

51p6zffgttl-_sy344_bo1204203200_-2JANINE WEDEL, jwedel[at]gmu.edu, @janinewedel
Wedel, an anthropologist, is a University Professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. She just wrote the piece “Clinton’s Latest Email Scandal And Why It Deserves Scrutiny: When the public’s trust is betrayed, it only fuels a demagogue like Trump.” Her books include Unaccountable: How The Establishment Corrupted our Finances, Freedom, and Politics and Created an Outsider Class, just out in paperback, and Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.

Wedel writes: “With days to go before the election, the FBI has served up its own October Surprise, saying it was examining a new batch of emails in an investigation most thought had generally ended. But at the heart of the broader controversy, Hillary Clinton has no one to blame except herself.

“I have been studying the behavior of influence elites for years as a social anthropologist, and one of the hallmarks of today’s elites is the subverting of standard process. … I examine how the most agile policy makers personalize the bureaucracy, creating workarounds and pushing rules and standards to their limits to both better press their agendas, and to avoid accountability should those agendas later come into question. I have devoted much study to one of the most egregious cases of subverting process, the concerted effort by a small circle of neoconservatives, what I call the Neocon core, to take the United States to war in Iraq in 2003.

“For Hillary Clinton, there has been no case of personalizing the bureaucracy more ultimately damaging to her reputation than her use of a private email server. Watergate player John Dean took to the New York Timeson Monday to say that Trump’s assertion that the email scandal is worse than Watergate distorts the record, and takes our eye off of more significant abuses of power. I agree that ‘Email-gate’ does not deserve that name. It’s a blip compared to what the Neocon core did, both in terms of the subversion itself, and the terrible impact of the decision to engineer a casus belli. But it’s not nothing either.

“Putting aside the very real security concerns raised by using a private server, officials like Clinton and many, many others who subvert standard procedure create a black hole of transparency. At the same time she was Secretary of State, her husband was subverting (his term is more likely ‘innovating’) philanthropic process by mixing business clients with donors, taking donations from corporations and foreign governments in novel and, again, less-than-transparent ways. This emerging elite practice has been dubbed ‘philanthro-capitalism’ and is by no means confined to the Clintons.”

Wedel also recently wrote the piece “Trumpism 101: The Outsider, Ignored For Years. No Longer,” which states: “This rigged system exists, not in the voting booth (as Donald Trump keeps proclaiming), but in policy making arenas. The sense that something huge is amiss has driven millions of Americans to seek leaders they perceive as outside of the system — the most successful being Trump, Bernie Sanders, and a motley collection of third party candidates. In fact, as I argue, the new corruption of Hillary Clinton and many, many elite players of all stripes has paved the way for the likes of Trump and Sanders.”