27 October 2010

Elites

Who are they? What do they want?

I have no idea what people mean by "Real America", but it seems a code phrase for "right-leaning, god-fearing 'regular' people", and somehow includes an umbrella clause for other right-leaning people who have billions of dollars or went to Yale but live somewhere in the midst of flyover country. In any case, it's hard for me to say that this group of people is "under attack" anymore than secularist left-leaning people might consider themselves "under attack" by people 'clinging to their god and guns'.

What would be easier to demonstrate is if there were some empirical basis for this claim that they were being defeated and repressed. Say for instance, their socio-economic status. Alas, the group of disenfranchised "real Americans" that constitutes the "Tea Party" is largely consisting of white, older, rural, small-town Republicans (WORSTs) who seem to be actually pretty well off, certainly relative to the rest of us. It's hard to see how this is a group of people who are oppressed, much as it amuses me when evangelical/fundamentalist Christians take this perspective that they are an oppressed culture within American society.

The most amusing part of this notion was this idea that the country is being run by a persistent cabal of Harvard/elite school trained people. Which is best described as follows: "Let me put this plainly here, because Mr Murray won't. Attention all tea-partiers: Charles Murray thinks Barack Obama is smart, and you're dumb.". Murray's already kind of in an intellectual dog house for me with his interpretations of poverty and race and academic achievement being horribly flawed. So this interpretation of the country as a war between elites and the rest of us turning out to be similarly sloppy logic isn't terribly surprising. I guess I can see where such people get off decrying "academics" and "ivory towers" and "intellectuals", because they (we) do have this nasty habit of pointing out inconsistencies in thinking and factual errors. That can get quite annoying when you've no idea what you're talking about I'm sure.

But by far the most damning implication is this idea that somehow if we could just find some regular folk to run things instead (and gee, don't we have some of those over here on the right-wing?), things would be better for regular folk (ie, real Americans). The real problem is more that there are things to run or conceived as being capable of being run from a central authority in the first place. It makes no difference whether you appoint Republicans or Democrats, patricians or plebeians, Harvard or Indiana, to take over the reins of government power and authority. The actual difference is to be counted what reins that government gives up and which it chooses to lash out harder with.
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