Cennamology Chief Editor
A common line uttered by politicians everywhere when they try to explain that their policies are not discriminatory towards a particular group of people is “I have many (insert minority group here)
All politicians have done it at some point or another. A politician promoting voter identification laws that disproportionately affect African Americans says that he is not racist because he has many black friends. Another who fights against the legalization of same-sex marriage claims they are not homophobic because they have many gay friends.
However, you never hear a politician say that (s)he has many poor friends when they put into place policies that harm those in the lower income brackets. That’s because most politicians simply do not have any poor friends. Heck, many do not even have middle class friends.
It is because of this problem that the Disney movie “The Emperor’s New Groove,” should be watched and discussed in the political sphere even 14 years after its release.
The relevant message that I get out of “The Emperor’s New Groove,” is that in order to effectively be in a position of political power, one must be subject to the “Kuzco treatment.” And no, I do not mean that we should turn all of our politicians into llamas.
For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, I’ll highlight the parts that are relevant to the point. Kuzco is an 18-year-old emperor of a kingdom (clearly inspired by Incan culture) who is the epitome of spoiled, selfish and ignorant. On top of that, he is very apathetic towards anyone else’s problems. One day, Kuzco informs a peasant named Pacha that he plans to build a personal summer resort named Kuzcotopia on the land where Pacha’s house is, taking it via eminent domain. Pacha protests, but Kuzco ignores him.
It is only after Kuzco is mistakenly turned into a llama by Yzma, the film’s eccentric villain who is out to kill Kuzco to get revenge for firing her, that he winds up in Pacha’s village. Therefore, Kuzco needs Pacha’s help to get back to the palace. Pacha asks for a guarantee that his house will remain standing in return, but K uzcoinitially refuses. For some reason, Pacha helps Kuzco anyway.
So during the road trip, Pacha develops a sort of father-figure relationship with Kuzco, as he is really the first peasant that Kuzco has ever established any remotely positive relationship with. After seeing Pacha’s family and what harm his governing methods can bring to people, Kuzco reforms Disney style!
What does this have to do with politics again? Politicians can greatly benefit from a similar type of exposure to the common man that the emperor did in the movie. This is the “Kuzco treatment.” With this treatment, policy makers can take into a greater consideration what effects the laws that they make will have on more than just the donor class. It is the type of knowledge that Kuzco gained on his journey that made him less out of touch.
After the recent stripping of campaign finance barriers, the chances of politicians willingly going through the “Kuzco treatment,” are becoming less and less. A few weeks ago, many of the hopefuls for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 went to Las Vegas to meet with casino mogul and eighth richest man in the world Sheldon Adelson, to discuss the issues that are important to him. Adelson is one guy, who gets one vote like you and me. His money makes his endorsement a wish-list item for any potential Republican nominee. In fact, Adelson’s money was almost solely responsible for keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign afloat in 2012.
As long as people like Adelson have all of the influence, the issues that are important to the select few will be the issues that our politicians focus on. Since Adelson is a casino mogul, one of his biggest concerns is online gambling.
Now, if America was the true free market economy that our government claims it is, online gambling would not be an issue. It would be given a fair chance to make money and compete with live gambling. However, online gambling is a threat to Adelson’s money, and he will bankroll any politician who promises to harshly regulate or outright ban online gambling.
Overall, online gambling will not be a drastic blow to Adelson’s money. There will not be tumbleweeds in his casinos if more states legalize online gambling. But in Congress and seven state legislatures, this is the issue that is being discussed instead of immigration, income inequality, tax reform and other issues that affect a hell of a lot more people than online gambling.
Visiting Adelson will not make the 2016 hopefuls any more in-touch with the American people. Going through the “Kuzco treatment” will by meeting those who are directly affected by Congress’s deadlock and inactivity.
However, meeting and greeting as a campaign stunt is not enough. Only by establishing real connections and friendships with those from all walks of the social ladder will our leaders truly grasp how their policies (or lack thereof) affects the average American.
Then, every politician can say they have black friends, gay friends, Jewish friends AND poor friends.