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Feature Story June 26, 2003
 
Elite versus Elitny
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 5 of 9
 
As Talking Heads bravely sang, "I wouldn't live the way those people do/I wouldn't live there if you paid me to!"

Why shouldn't the Left acknowledge its elite status? What the hell are we trying to hide? Who are we trying to fool with our denial of our elitism -- the Debbies (who don't listen to the Left anyway) or ourselves? Can you handle being in opposition to your own countrymen, your own targeted class, on the grounds that you know better?

Thin, vicious, millionaire right-wing pundit Ann Coulter (left) accuses fat, slovenly Bush critic Michael Moore of being a “liberal elitist.” Most Middle Americans, themselves fat and devastated financially since Bush came to power, agree with Coulter.

Thin, vicious, millionaire right-wing pundit Ann Coulter (left) accuses fat, slovenly Bush critic Michael Moore of being a “liberal elitist.” Most Middle Americans, themselves fat and devastated financially since Bush came to power, agree with Coulter.

I can.

What makes it so difficult to accept the notion that the tweedy Left is an elite is that, compared to America's real elite -- the all-powerful, vampiric right-wing oligarchy--the tweed elite is insignificant. Somehow the kleptocrats managed to invert objective American reality, making themselves "regular folks" in the eyes of the Debbies, while liberals and leftists, whose platforms are designed to help the poor and middle-classes at the expense of the wealthy, have been successfully tagged "elitists." How did it work out that Bush, a pampered prep school brat who came from generations of wealth and never had to struggle in his life, is considered "regular folks" by the regular folks, whereas Clinton, who came from truly horrible white trash in Arkansas, the kind of poor broken home that Debbie was only a step or two away from and may yet end up in herself, is considered an elitist?

Clinton wanted to give health insurance to the tens of millions of Americans who are without it; the Republicans killed it. Now only an elite few can afford good health care. How is it that someone could call a poor sucker in Ken "elitist" for wanting to help him live longer, perhaps as long as a millionaire, while the millionaires and billionaires, the ones who have been using the Republican power to push through even more radical transfers of wealth into their pockets, are not seen as an "elite"?

The Left blames the rightwing media conspiracy, but I'm pretty sure that even if the American people were given exactly even doses of Left, Center and Right-wing ideology, that they'd gravitate in force towards Limbaugh Radio. First, because the Right loves America, genuinely so as far as I can tell. The Right identifies itself with America. The Right has always had an easier time sounding like convinced patriots: they like the symbols, the flags, Sunday at church, wearing suits and ties as often as possible. The lower-middle classes don't hate these things the way that the Left instinctively does.

The Left, on the other hand, either likes an America that doesn't quite exist or loathes what America has become, and that puts off most of the white working poor. Cultures tend towards extremes at certain periods in their history: during Stalin's time you couldn't be too anti-bourgeois and unsentimental; in England in the late 1600s, you couldn't be too Protestant or anti-Catholic; and today in America, you can't be too patriotic or too hokey.

Liberal elitist alert! The beard and smug smile give him away

Liberal elitist alert! The beard and smug smile give him away

Secondly, the white underclass -- and we may as well call those tens of millions struggling to get into or to keep from getting tossed out of the nominal middle-class as a kind of "underclass" whose tragedy hasn't yet been hallowed -- really identifies with Bush. For example, his diction: this is where educated Leftists and liberals just can't connect with Middle America. You can't fake that hazy-headed simplicity of Bush's. I remember being shocked by Bush's first post-9/11 speech, which struck me as grotesquely unemotional, insincere, uninspiring and hard to listen to just for his sheer inability to hold thoughts longer than a sentence or two. That day my landlord sent over his electrician to fix my air conditioner. He told me, "Man, did you hear Bush's speech? He's angry, and he means business. If I was Osama and I heard that speech, I would be doo-dooing in my pants." I remember looking at him, thinking, "Who extended the right to vote to this monkey?"


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Ames
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Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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