NAVIGATING WIKILEAKS: A GUIDE TO THE PODESTA EMAILS
[NOTE: The following guide is necessarily incomplete, as the documents themselves are as yet incompletely revealed to the public. Therefore, as the documents continue to be released by Wikileaks, I will continually update the content on this page. Please check back regularly.
Following the narrative introduction I will provide an analysis of the content as a whole, an evolving index, and a directory of the documents pertaining to key individuals and issues. Anyone with any suggestions or corrections on making this guide more effective please send me an email. There will also shortly be a Table of Contents at the top of the Guide to make it easier to jump to the sections that will be added.]
INTRODUCTION: SAUSAGE-MAKING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DISGUSTING
The recent release by Wikileaks of the emails of John Podesta provides the American citizenry a unique view into how national presidential campaigns and political parties actually operate within our contemporary process of governance. A view into the "private" lives of these "public" entities. Showing, as Hillary Clinton now famously articulated openly but behind the closed doors of her elite Wall Street audience only to be publicly revealed within the Podesta emails, that the norm of politics has become speaking one way in public, saying what is deemed necessary to win, while holding completely contradictory views, spoken truthfully only in private. She later claimed Lincoln made her do it while the media, often also revealed within the leaked documents as presenting one face to the public but in fact having a completely contrary one in private, has sought to dismiss this as simply the normal way politics and government operate.
The politics as usual argument harkens back to the old adage that making laws is like making sausage - it is a process disgusting to watch - and thus the uninitiated ought not look deeper into the truth before digesting the product.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
This saying has always been an excuse for those in the political class to keep the masses of citizens blind to the reality of the corrupted nature - while seeking to convince that this is somehow a necessity - of politics and government. Good sausage is a product that one would have no problem seeing "what goes in" to make the final product - in fact the process is a thing of beauty.
The reference to sausage in this trite old saying is not to the making of quality products (now presumed only in "gourmet" varieties) but, in the industrial era of the late 19th century, to the process of taking the waste products of industrial agriculture and corporate food giants and producing a marketable and presumably "edible" product, so long as one does not know what is actually in it, that can be consumed by the masses. The saying has often been questionably attributed to Otto von Bismarck, hardly the defender of democratic institutions, yet to a nation that would have been intimately familiar with sausage making - a national and proud dietary staple often produced in one's own home - that would have rejected the notion that sausage making was somehow a necessarily unseemly process that one ought to seek to avert one's eyes. The phrase fits far more accurately to the world of The Jungle of Upton Sinclair, whose muckraking journalism at the turn of the last century was a necessary cure to the abuses of the industrial age.
The same is true in the world of politics - there ought to be no reason people would not want to see what goes into the process whereby our laws are made - if what we were viewing was the inner workings of GOOD government. Such a process ought to be a thing of beauty - something a nation could be proud to display for all to see unfiltered. It is only when we are marketed a poor substitute - and feel powerless to have any alternative choice - that we would want to avert our eyes. But that is not what one would expect in a nation truly striving to live up to the theoretical promises and moral dimension of an actual and functioning democracy.
Taking a look behind the scenes, into the practice of our governmental sausage factory, is perhaps the healthiest opportunity and least repulsive element to emerge in this disgusting electoral season. One ought not to have to witness and experience the electoral farce but the WikiLeaks documents ought to be required reading for all.. The 2016 election has proven to be the most disturbing in history - although it would be naive to believe that, if the causes of what is wrong this year are left unaddressed, that future elections would not actually tend toward ever more troubling performances. It could prove, however, given that Wikileaks has begun to pull the curtain back to reveal the actual wizard pulling the levers, to have been the election that brought America - kicking and screaming - back onto the path toward democracy.
I propose that, contrary to many claims now daily repeated by the mainstream media that it "threatens American democracy," Wikileaks may reveal that, in actual practice, our system is today anything but democratic. It may prove in the long run that this revelation was necessary in order to return the nation to the path toward the realization of democracy in practice. What the leaked documents reveal is often dismissed, again by the mainstream press repeating what the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign have sought to defensively spin, that there is nothing actually revealing or scandalous within the documents. This, they have argued - in a new role for journalists as overtly partisan actors who no longer report but both uncritically repeat the lines fed them and pass judgment on the stories and actors therein - is just how politics is normally done. There is no smoking-gun, they claim. Nothing to see here, so move along. It is just the routine, and necessary, way in which politics is done. You don't need to bother yourself with an internal view of the sausage-making process, so avert your eyes. But is this true?
I believe, to the contrary, studying the leaked documents will prove to be educational, productive and cathartic. A necessary step in the process of recovery of first openly recognizing the disease before one could have any chance of finding and successfully implementing a cure.
I would suggest that the totality of the documents, taken as a whole, are no mere smoking gun, but in fact a mushroom cloud. Exposing the public to the unseemly, and often immoral (and even unlawful), activities that have come to be normalized by the political class, legitimized by the press and pundits, and thus empowering us, the citizens, to be able to finally diagnose the disease that has infected the nation - indeed a disease famously warned would ultimately destroy any semblance of good government at the founding of this nation. As James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, famously stated in the Tenth Federalist, the "mortal disease" that has destroyed all forms of good government in history, and to which popular forms are the most susceptible of all, is that of the "Spirit of Party and Faction."
What most Americans have been unaware is that the Two Party System, today indistinguishable from our constitution (or form of government " as distinguished from the formal, written, legal document establishing its framework of institutions and processes), was not only not desired when the nation was founded but the Constitution's primary aim was to be a prophylactic to prevent such a disease from gaining an infecting foothold into the lifeblood of the nation.