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Who Are the Elites, Anyway?

I read a number of articles over the weekend that had the same basic theme – not only do the tea party followers not like elites, they positively love ignorance. The general conclusion is that the tea party movement is filled with people suspicious of anyone smarter than they are, which is pretty much everyone else. As usual, the critics don’t understand the issue.

It’s not that we are automatically suspicious of anyone with a Ph.D. Take Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams. These men are both brilliant thinkers at the top of the economic and social science fields. But they are not seen as elites by most of the tea party movement. So who are the elites?

Here is an easy way to spot them. Elites love to talk about free market failures. When the free market makes a decision with which they disagree, their first reaction is to point to the failure of the free market to come to the logical decision about which is the better product. Typically, they point to the same few examples. Dvorak keyboards, Apple computers, and Betamax video recorders. Lately, we can add hybrid cars to the list.

In the minds of the elites, the free market rejected the superior product in favor of an inferior product, to the detriment of society as a whole. Rather than detailing how the elitists are wrong in each of these cases, I will let you do the research yourself. (Hint: Reason.com is a good place to start.)

Joe Klein summed up the elitist position here:

There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts. It is a society that no longer takes itself seriously. This is not a complaint about the current Republican tide, by the way: that’s part of the natural flow of political life, a result of the economy and the President’s abstruse brand of politics. I’ll welcome the arrival in Washington of smart Republicans like Ohio’s Rob Portman; I won’t welcome an ideologue like Rand Paul, but at least he’s done some thinking about what constitutes good public policy (although his notion of such is puerile and ultimately fatal to a democracy).

I’ll save you the trouble of looking up puerile. It means childish and silly. That’s the elitist view of the Constitution. Childish and silly.

It’s not that America disdains its experts. It’s that we resent having experts make decisions on our behalf that we can make for ourselves. And there’s the rub. The Constitution, that childish and silly document, spells out 18 enumerated powers of Congress. All other power revert to the states or to the people themselves. Not to the elites.

To the elites, the Constitution is not only childish and silly, it is, in Joe Klein’s own words, “ultimately fatal to a democracy.” If that’s the message of the elites, then good riddance.

fiat lux!

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