must be smarter than the rest of us otherwise he wouldn’t have a column at WaPo:
This isn’t a very popular statement, but there is a role for elites in public life. Just like I want knowledgeable CEOs running companies and knowledgeable doctors performing surgeries, I want knowledgeable legislators crafting public policy. That’s why we have a representative democracy, rather than some form of government-by-referendum. But of late, the elites in the Republican Party are abdicating their roles, preferring to pander to the desire for free tax cuts and the hostility to Al Gore than make tough and potentially unpopular decisions to safeguard our future.
You might not know this but half the people in this country are below average in intelligence. We don’t want those people making important decisions by themselves because they might elect some know-nothing chillbilly bimbo from the Arctic wastelands.
Luckily for us there are some really smart people in this country (like Ezra) who went to the best schools (like Ezra) and who are better informed than the rest of us (like Ezra.) That’s why he formed Journolist, a private listserv for lefty elites. Ezra personally selected the best and brightest 400 “left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics”
The Journolistas wanted to be sure that the smelly less-intelligent proletariat types (that’s us) had the proper guidance in making decisions like who to vote for. So they would discuss it and decide what we should be told to decide.
But even the super-smart Journolistas didn’t always agree with each other, so they made sure to discuss it in private first so they didn’t confuse the rest of us. You know, just like your parents used to do when you were a little kid.
(Here endeth the snark)
The biggest problem with elitism is the “elites” are never as smart as they think they are. But that’s not the only problem.
Membership in the “elites” becomes incestuous and self-serving. Entry into the group is based more on social class and connections than competition using some objective criteria. New members and wannabes engage in sycophancy.
I think it was in early 2003 that I was invited to become a participant in an oh-so-exclusive and oh-so-secret private email discussion group.
When I first joined the list, I was very flattered. I was still a new blogger, and I was kinda sorta “in.” Whoop-ti-do! I was on a list with famous people! It was, like, totally cool, man. I’d be included in cutting-edge discussions! I’d see great, powerful new ideas being developed in real time! How fucking fantastic!
So a lot of it was simply boring. Beyond that was an element I found considerably worse, an element that I grew to dislike intensely. The toadying around the most famous members of the list was transparently obvious and frequently sickening. “Oh, your article about blah-blah-blah was magnificent!” “Oh, please, please write about X! You’re the only one who could do justice to this urgent issue! And you’ll treat it with your unique sensitivity and perceptiveness!” It was nauseating. Of course, the famous list members loved it.
I don’t mind in the least that we here at TC are considered untouchable lepers by the rest of Left Blogistan. Being an outcast is liberating. Since I’ll never get invited to join Journolist version 2.0 I am free to say “Ezra Klein is a dipshit.”
One last point, regarding the dangers of not being as smart as you think you are. Go back and read the last sentence of that quote from Ezra at the top of the post. It’s based on the premise that the Republicans KNOW that the Democrats are right but pretend to disagree for corrupt reasons.
This is one of several ways your thinking becomes warped by arrogance and conceit. You think everyone else either knows you’re right or they are incapable of understanding the truth. You stop listening to them, and since you alone are right and they are dishonest or stupid, you stop trying to persuade them and start looking for ways to manipulate them or to achieve your goals in undemocratic ways.
That’s a slippery slope with a sharp downgrade.
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