…Just Didn’t Realize It, I Guess
Elite. Elite. Elite. Elite. Elite:
- Faustian urGe ranted in several recent posts about the “Power Elite,” you know, the top 1/4 of one percent bracket of U.S. wealth holders.
- Faustian urGe has, of course, recently owned up to being a Proud Member of the “Intellectual Elite,” — official, but apparently now former, cabal of republican spinmeisters — and I think that’s pretty much proven to be anyone who conducts due diligence prior to issuing forth their random thoughts, rants, and positions… meaning we’re a very, very small cadre in “God’s Country ; )”
- And, Tea Partiers chant America has been taken over by a “New Elite“ wherever they swarm. Never really gave much thought to this particular nomenclature as the real and only string pullers of interest are the Power Elite and the media outlets they control and the “grass roots” movements they fund and the think tanks they’ve built, etc.
Well, I am dutifully ignorant no longer!
Charles Murray has delineated and defined this quite extraordinary elite, and I’m proud to announce that CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST is, unwittingly, a member. Charles Murray is co-arthur of 1994’s “The Bell Curve” and the W.H. Brady scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, haven for Libertarian and NeoConservative Intelligentsia.
According to Charles,
That a New Elite has emerged over the past 30 years is not really controversial. That its members differ from former elites is not controversial. What sets the tea party apart from other observers of the New Elite is its hostility, rooted in the charge that elites are isolated from mainstream America and ignorant about the lives of ordinary Americans.
Let me propose that those allegations have merit.
In a word, it’s all about “The Clustering.”
Supposedly, we are to have attended the elite universities of America, not that we had to come from wealth to get there but certainly arrived based upon intelligence if not also with wealth intact.
Humm, CORONARE studied and mastered business-economics at the “Ivy League of the Midwest,” and his similarly situated nephew attends an actual Ivy League. Turns out there are a number of the elite schools around the country but only a grand few gain admittance.
We know one thing, according to Murray’s analysis: the New Elite cluster in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn’t limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. As with “elite-qualifying” universities, these concentrations extend to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, amongst others.
I particularly enjoy the spectacular Midtown-Atlanta intersection of our elite Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, both institutions where I have long maintained professional and personal relations.
With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering — Here… here is where CORONARE especially meets the cultural test:
- Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows — “Mad Men” now, “The Sopranos” a few years ago. correct
- But they haven’t any idea who replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right.” correct
- They know who Oprah is, but they’ve never watched one of her shows from beginning to end. correct
- Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, correct
- …but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), who? I mean, correct
- …and the acronym MMA means nothing to them. wow, so correct
- They can talk about books endlessly (see Faustian urGe Book Recommendations from several months ago), correct
- …but they’ve never read a “Left Behind” novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans). ugh, correct
- They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great natural springs hidden in the St. Lucian rainforest or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, yep
- …but they wouldn’t be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). yeppers
- They have never heard of Branson, Mo. (Well, I have only because my former company had business there)
There are so many quintessentially American things that few of us members of the New Elite have experienced:
- They probably haven’t ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, nope
- …or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn’t count), nope
- …or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don’t count). nope – urban yes, but gentrified and vast majority degreed
- They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn’t count) nope, and I feel fortunate
- …or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. ummm, no
- They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one. worked on one, no. developed business for the factory floor and visited, yes
MEA CULPA NOT REQUIRED… YET. WELL, SORT OF…
Taken individually, according to Murray, we members of the New Elite are isolated from mainstream America as a result of lifestyle choices that are nobody’s business but our own. But add the choices all up, and it surely means the New Elite lives in a world that doesn’t intersect with mainstream America in many important ways.
When the tea party says the New Elite doesn’t get America, there is some truth in the accusation. I guess all CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST can say is, “Thank the Gods above!”
Charles wants to maintain that at least part of our isolation is political. In a Harvard survey Murray mentions, 72 percent of Harvard seniors said their beliefs were to the left of the nation as a whole, compared with 10 percent who said theirs were to the right of it. The political preferences of academics and journalists among the New Elite also, apparently, conform to the suspicions of the tea party.
Another “Hummm?” drones from within.
- Interestingly, my elite university is predominantly right-wing conservative (actually libertarian, most likely), and yet I’m what’s termed a Social-Capitalist, “Left Libertarian” via the official “Political Compass Study.”
- And, my also clearly misfit nephew? He’s Low-Authority Right-Wing, “Right Libertarian” whose enmeshed in left-wing intellectual academia. We Fausts just can’t seem to get our stereotyping correct! Damm!
But the politics of the New Elite are not Murray’s or the Tea Party’s main point.
When it comes to the schools where they were educated, the degrees they hold, the Zip codes where they reside and the television shows they watch, I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones.
So, here’s where the “MEA CULPA NOT REQUIRED… YET. WELL, SORT OF…” comes into play…
Once again, according to Charles Murray,
They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it.
HONEY! I HAVEN’T FELT “OF AMERICA” FOR A VERY LONG TIME! Are you really just catching on?
A note about the justified fear of “anti-educationalism,” of politicians boasting of not knowing anything, of taking pride in ignorance… from the New Republic regarding Charles Murray’s article, “New Elite:”
As David Frum pointed out…, Murray, and others like him, are trying to avoid a definition of elite that includes wealth, because such a definition, and the analysis of why these elites have performed so poorly in the past decade, would inevitably lead to policies that the ideological right is not comfortable with. Instead, Murray’s definition becomes dependent on geography, culture, and, most worryingly, education. It is one thing to worry about the geographic clustering of college graduates or the continuing struggle for socioeconomic diversity in elite universities; it is quite another to turn learning into an enemy of “real America.” Unlike class or race or other parts of one’s background, a person can always expand his or her own education, and politicians should always be encouraging education, both for economic and cultural benefit. Using education as a wedge only ensures that ignorance continues, no matter what side you’re on.