Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Election of the Elites

Ezra Klein:

...the campaign against Obama has metastasized into a variant of class warfare. It's the resentment of the meritocracy. What the GOP realized was that Obama did come across different than the average American, but not so much because he was black as because he was effortless. The very set of supercharged talents and qualities that allowed Obama to levitate past the boundaries of race and class make him different than those who haven't rocketed upward on the strength of their intelligence and charisma and charm. After all, if you're a fumbling, struggling individual out in suburban Ohio, how can you believe that this guy who doesn't look to have struggled a day in his life cares about your pathetic problems? Obama, in other words, is elite. As in "A group or class of persons enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status." Obama isn't an economic elite, but he is a social and intellectual elite. And it's that creeping sense that he's different, that he's better and knows it, that McCain is trying to exploit.

The Obama campaign, similarly, has realized that McCain is an elite, and that voters won't believe that a guy who has so many houses that he can't keep track of them will care if they lose the small condo they call home. This election, in other words, is becoming a contest to decide which type of elite voters hate -- or fear, or mistrust -- more: A social elite or an economic elite?

(HT Tyler Cowen)


thinking said...

It is absolutely galling that the Republicans try to portray Obama as the "elite" one...when he is the one who came from a very humble background, had the disadvantage of being black, was raised by a single mom and his grandparents.

Contrast that to McCain, who was born to a family of privilege, and then who dumped his first wife when she became injured in an accident and married a far younger woman who just happened to be heir to a huge beer fortune.

Look at the Republicans...Bush, McCain, Romney...they all had the same plan for success: be born into it, and again, in McCain's case, amplify that by marrying super rich.

The last self made Republican leader was Reagan, which may explain why he was so much better than this generation of Republicans.

Obama's life has been one where he has earned everything. If he so talented that he makes it look easy, then great for him.

And what the heck does "elite" really signify anyway? As John Stewart said, I want a president who is so talented, so intelligent, that he makes me look small.

When my sister had back surgery, I was glad that the doctor was hyper intelligent and had all the right degrees from the right schools. I didn't want her to have a doctor I could go bowling with, but one who could get the job done.

It's the same with the presidency; ultimately we need someone who is talented and smart enough to get the job done.

But again, it's a sign of how much the Republican party has degenerated that they try to portray Obama as "elite."

thinking said...

I would add the Republican smear machine has done a disservice on 2 fronts:

1) Trying to portray the self made man, Obama, who has earned everything he's got, as the elitist, when his opponent would be nowhere had he not dumped his first wife to marry a beer heiress, and the current President would not be there if not for family privilege.

This Republican party is so far from the party of Reagan that it's sad.

2) But perhaps even worse than that, the Republicans are trying to not just smear Obama, but actually smear the idea of being intelligent, educated, cultured, talented.

Look at how the Republicans jumped all over Obama for daring to suggest that Americans should learn a second language. Look at how the Republicans jumped over Obama, for answering, when he was asked about how the average person could make a difference on energy independence and conservation, he pointed out a very good idea and that was to properly inflate the tires.

As Obama has said, it's like the Republicans take pride in ignorance.

That is the real tragedy of the campaign the Republicans are running: they are glorifying ignorance and trying to denigrate intellect.