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Chuck Schumer’s Hollow Gesture and Politics as Ritual

By Paul Miller, Originally published in the New York Observer

Politics is about power – who gets what, when, and how. Far less obvious, politics is also about rituals and their manipulation in the pursuit of power. Anthropologists associate elaborate ritual with primitive societies. In truth, all societies use such devices. They are just less recognizable in our own society.

On August 06, 2015, we were presented with a political ritual worthy of publication in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory. Senator Chuck Schumer came out against President Obama’s Iran deal, stating that he would not only vote against the president on the initial vote, he would also vote to override the president’s inevitable veto.

The pundits are telling their audiences that this is a severe blow to the president and how shaken the administration must be by the third most powerful person in the Senate parting company with the administration over an issue that the president is fighting for with all the tenacity of a pit bull at the jugular.

In actuality, Mr. Schumer is parting company with the administration in a well-contrived political ritual that most likely has the president’s blessing. This political play was all but confirmed by CNN in a Friday article citing “a White House official” and “a source close to the New York delegation’s discussions” suggesting “Schumer’s announcement of opposition came only after enough Democratic support was assured to keep the plan intact.”

Continue reading in the New York Observer…

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