I was having a beer the other day with my friend Bob Sacamanto.
Bob's a great guy. Hard working, pretty smart, great sense of humor, heck of a dancer. But he doesn't follow politics very closely. Obviously he has better things to do.
This sometimes makes him susceptible to the more subtle claptrap that the political partisans slop into the feeding trough of American pop culture on a 24-hour cycle.
As we nursed our Boulevards, Bob pointed out that he heard someone criticizing someone else for using the term "elitists" in a pejorative sense.
"It's like the guy said. What's wrong with being an elitist? Aren't elitists the best people in society? Isn't it the elitists who make the big discoveries? Don't we send the elitist troops in for the special, dangerous missions?" Bob said.
"Don't we actually want the elitists to run our government?"
My friend Bob Sacamanto actually fell for the exact rhetorical trap that some of the partisans wanted him to. Not his fault. Like I say, when you don't automatically assume that every politician is full of crap, it's easy to get sucked in by these things.
I'm a patient guy, so I just clarified it for him.
"Well, you see Bob, what you're missing (and what the partisans want you to miss) is that being an elitist isn't the same thing as being elite.
"Sure, the elite fighter pilots are the best. The elite football players make the most money. The elite chess players... well they get beat up a lot.
"But in general, the elite are considered the top of their various fields of endeavor.
"However, an elitist isn't necessarily elite. An elitist is someone of normal to below normal intelligence who thinks they are elite.
"Sometimes they don't realize they are elitist. They actually believe they are better than everyone else.
"But often (especially in the political world), they know they are not elite, which ironically makes them even more elitist.
"So when one partisan uses the word "elitist" as an epithet, she is referring to people who claim to have some kind of special insight or right to rule over others, tell them what's good for them, spend their money and make bad decisions on their behalf."
Bob Sacamanto paused for a moment and took another pull from his beer as he considered the revelation. He actually looked kind of frustrated to have fallen for this subtle trick. So I thought I'd try to cheer him up a little with one more thought.
"Of course, it's completely hypocritical for someone proposing expanded government programs and massive taxing/spending to "help the people" to call someone else an elitist."
tagged: politics, elitist, elite, politicians, election