Watch out, fellow elitists! It’s a trap!


Mr. Smith accused me of being elitist today, and let’s face it: He had evidence on his side.

But something good came out of that scolding of yours truly. It reminded me of a piece I read back in October, and meant to share here, and forgot. But it occurs to me that today is the perfect day to share it and the warning it contains.

It was an oped piece in The Washington Post by Joel Stein, author of In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book.

I actually probably should buy that book, if it’s anywhere near as funny as the column. An excerpt:

Impeachment is an elitist trap

As an elitist, I enjoy a good impeachment. Especially if followed by a trial in the Senate, overseen by the chief justice in a black robe with gold stripes. In fact, I wish there were an even more complicated way to kick out a president — one with a Latin name that centered on the opinions of Ivy League historians and presented as a nine-part documentary on PBS.

Correcting the electorate’s stupid mistake via an intricate legal process created by our Enlightenment-loving founders and enacted by entrenched experts in Congress is the elites’ version of “John Wick.”

I am assuming that “John Wick” is movie about a righteous, skilled underdog battling an incompetent, corrupt power. But I have no idea if that’s true, since elites have never seen any of the “John Wick” movies…

… and so forth. That passage made me feel very smug, since I have never seen a John Wick movie, either. (Are they particularly stupid? I need you to tell me, because I wouldn’t know!)

The piece is full of good bits that tempt me to push the envelope just a mite on Fair Use. Here’s another one:

Populism is the demand for pure democracy. Its enemy is the republic, which removes the dangerous edges of democracy by protecting human rights from the majority’s will. Our founders gave us a republic. If they had wanted a direct democracy, the Constitution would be one page. Majorities don’t like republics. Majorities were sold a democratic system where they get whatever they want, right away. When they don’t get what they want, they get frustrated and turn to tyranny, which gets things done faster. Plato predicted this in “The Republic.” It’s the job of the elitist to explain this to people without mentioning Plato’s “The Republic.”…

Anyway, the serious point in all this hilarity is that the best approach to getting rid of Trump is to beat him next year at the polls, “Especially if we do it with a big enough majority so that we don’t have to explain the electoral college.”

But read the whole thing. It’s fun. And when you’re living in such depressing times — when a president is about to get the impeachment he so richly deserves, and the Senate is waiting to reject that impeachment in the most insultingly dismissive way they can think of — it’s nice if we can, even for just a moment, laugh about it…

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7 thoughts on “Watch out, fellow elitists! It’s a trap!

  1. bud

    I’m with you Brad. Some folks really should not be allowed to vote. Here’s my list.

    1. People who are incapable of learning the lessons of Vietnam
    2. Folks who defend the return of prohibition
    3. People who worship at the alter of false equivalency
    4. Those who fail to admit the obvious truth that there was ample evidence of NO WMD in Iraq pre-war
    5. Those who do not understand the cruelty of locking up pot smokers and worse, do not fully embrace medicinal marijuana.

    And I could go on. As Brad has pointed out many times sometimes we need to see and accept the hard reality of fact. Folks who are incapable of understanding basic facts should be barred from voting.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m glad you’re getting your mind right.

      I especially like the one about “ample evidence of NO WMD.” What does that look like, by the way — ample evidence of a negative? How much does it weigh?

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      But seriously … and I kind of hate to break with the spirit of fun of this post… but just in case someone reads Bud’s list and thinks those are actually my positions… I should perhaps make these points.

      Because, oh Lord, I don’t want to be misunderstood.

      Here we go:
      1. No, I don’t embrace simplistic nostrums that many of my generation THINK are the “lessons of Vietnam.” I see the world as much more complex than that. From the start, there was no simple, obvious “way out” of our involvement there. And even if I agreed that there was, I most certainly would not believe that this constituted a simple “lesson” that is applicable to every other situation in the world today — as, unfortunately, many of my generation do. It’s not that I am a thick student who can’t learn a “lesson.” I see the same things that the “lesson”-learners see. I see other factors as well, which complicate the conclusions to be drawn.
      2. I didn’t know Prohibition was RETURNing, or that that return was being attacked so that I might feel the need to “defend” it. Bud bases this on the fact that I would have no problem if we did decide as a society to bring back Prohibition. I like a drink, but I could give it up in the interest of making this a safer country, less prone to a host of ills ranging from domestic violence to carnage on the highways. But I don’t see this being anything that will ever happen. And I’ve never lifted a finger to MAKE it happen. I’ll work on more realistic goals, thanks.
      3. I’ve never engaged in FALSE equivalency. But I see the sins of both parties — ALL parties. When there’s a one-sided sin, I say so. But things are seldom as clear-cut as partisans would have it.
      4. There was NO evidence of NO WMD in Iraq pre-war, unless I’m failing to understand bud. I don’t see how there could be evidence of something that is NOT.
      5. I’ve never advocated locking up pot smokers, or any nonviolent offenders. Point to where you think I’ve done that. That’s completely different from the fact that I’m not enchanted by the idea of making cannabis legal. And while I don’t have strong objections to medical cannabis — as long as all the claims of its efficacy (and lack of legal alternatives that accomplish the same thing) hold up to scientific scrutiny. But no, I can’t say I “fully embrace” it. So Bud’s right on that point.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    I also enjoyed the blurb on the Amazon page about Stein’s book:

    The night Donald Trump won the presidency, our author Joel Stein, Thurber Prize finalist and former staff writer for Time Magazine, instantly knew why. The main reason wasn’t economic anxiety or racism. It was that he was anti-elitist. Hillary Clinton represented Wall Street, academics, policy papers, Davos, international treaties and the people who think they’re better than you. People like Joel Stein. Trump represented something far more appealing, which was beating up people like Joel Stein….

  3. JesseS

    Populism is NOT the demand for pure democracy. Populism is a lie that provides the illusion of being something better than “pure democracy”.

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