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Feature Story June 26, 2003
Elite versus Elitny
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 6 of 9
Bush's mannerisms accidentally harmonized with Middle America's, the very people who should be looking to lynch him for destroying their lives. But he's got something they understand on some primordial mammal level. You've had to have had spent your youth avoiding homework, cheating on tests and spending weekends sucking a beer bong to speak like Bush does, particularly considering his Exeter/Yale/Harvard education. Amazingly, Bush's inarticulate simplicity as well as his long years of coke-sniffing, drunk-driving sin are not only forgiven in Protestant Middle America, but are even considered virtues. In the Bible, Jesus says that God looks far more fondly upon someone who spends a life in sin and at the end repents than on a virtuous man who, at the end of life, allows himself to sin. So Bush played his cards right. Even Jesus apparently looks at him like a stand-up guy.

And lastly there is the issue of patronizing. All the good Leftists who come to help out the Debbies of the world are seen as inherently patronizing by the same Debbies. The Republicans talk about self-reliance, which goes over well in a country as crudely Protestant as America. They don't make a fuss as they pick her pockets. The Left makes a big fuss about her as a victim while they try to fill her pockets, and for most Americans, that is just unbearable.

Another thing I learned living in Kentucky is that the have-nots don't like seeing one of their own make it. I'll give you another example. Louisville has produced, to my knowledge, only one alternative music deity, Will Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy. In Europe and on the coasts, in Australia, he packs them in and draws the interviews. In Louisville, even 8 years after releasing his first album and about 5 years since his last local concert, he still wasn't able to muster up more than 50 people to his lakeside show. I asked a guitar player in a doomed-to-be-local garage band why Oldham, my hero, was so unappreciated. Her answer was an earful of invective against Oldham which came down to calling him an "elitist" -- and she was a left-wing lesbian graduate student! She and all the others hated Oldham for making it out of town. There is something pre-destined about Will Oldham that is daunting and, I can see, resentment-inspiring. I think that explains why Clinton is so loathed in Middle America: not because he's sleazy (in Kentucky, good people are expected to rip each other off), but because he's one of them. Which is why they'll never forgive him.

Take, as a counter-example, America's mega-oligarchy. They're so fabulously wealthy and hard-working, these Bushes, Cheneys, Kenneth Lays, Jack Welches: they are Superhumans, a breed that Middle Americans simply never have and never will meet in their lives. They're barely even real, yet at the same time, they don't openly mock Middle America. In fact, they try to embody it.

Americans have a choice between two elites, the leftwing intellectuals, or their remnants, and the right wing oligarchy. Guess which one will win. Here's a hint: one side has the money, the industry, the lobbyists, the police, bean-bag guns, APC-mounted water cannons, stun guns, pepper spray, rubber bullets, a near-monopoly on mainstream media contacts and lots of psychologically-impressive expensive dark suits with stern ties. The other side has mountain bikes and the ability to create 10-foot tall papier-mache puppets. Oh no, don't use the fucking puppets on us!

Danger! Three more leftwing elitists hatch another plan to tell YOU how to live!

Danger! Three more leftwing elitists hatch another plan to tell YOU how to live!

The American leftwing elite was once a serious threat to the right-wing oligarchy: in the 1930s particularly and again in the 1960s through the late 70s, Democrats used their power to extend benefits to the poor and health coverage to the elderly. This was considered a good thing by the people who benefited from it, while the Republicans and their wealthy corporate backers who tried to nix it all were considered "elitist" and worse. If politics is all about the distribution of wealth, then there was a time when the right-wing oligarchy had to fear some of its wealth being taken and spread about by the liberal elite. From the oligarchy-elite's point of view, they've had their revenge on LBJ and Roosevelt, and then some.

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