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The Conservatie Elite

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Liberals, and Democrats by association, are often stereotyped and criticized by conservatives for being “elitist.” You saw it in the last election, with pundits portraying Kerry as a snobby intellectual going against the good-ol-country-boy George Bush.

But what about conservative elitism? Can’t right-wing pundits be just as condescending and arrogant as anyone? Let’s take a look.

First, we have Rush Limbaugh, who recently said making election day a national holiday won’t help Democrats because most of their voters don’t work anyway:

LIMBAUGH: The two to three big opportunities so far mentioned by Howard Dean — pension portability and changes to election laws. … So portability of pensions. What’s the second one? Oh, yeah, Election Day a holiday. And well, you know — I don’t know why they need to do that. Most of their voters don’t work anyway, so I don’t know how that’s going to help them that much. At least in a percentage basis. (June 2)

Granted, Rush could be talking about the elderly, who typically vote Democrat. But in the last election, Bush received the most votes from the over-65 demographic. What Rush seems to be implying is that the majority of Democrats are unemployed bums. Considering the unemployment rate is 5.2 percent, and a little less than half the voting population votes Democrat, the numbers just don’t add up. From what little I’ve read, it seems making election day a national holiday would be much better for Democrats than Republicans in terms of improving voter turnout.

Partisan politics aside, it is hard to find a logical reason why election day isn’t a holiday. We bitch and moan about the low voter turnout in this country, but we can’t even give people the day off to go vote.

Next, we have conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who recently went on the O’Reily Factor and defined what it means to be normal:

INGRAHAM: Well, I think it’s interesting that people like [New York Daily News chairman and publisher Mort] Zuckerman [who wrote a June 2 op-ed suggesting that religious conservatives may hurt the Republican Party] would be saying this now, coming off of an election where President Bush was elected with middle-class support, Bill [O’Reilly, host], from about $23,000 to about $50,000 bracket for annual salary. Bush won by six points in all Americans and 22 points in white middle-class voters. So the Republicans are clearly connecting with the regular people, where the Democrats aren’t. (June 2)

I guess Ingraham meant to say the majority of the people, instead of regular people. Or maybe not. Maybe she really believes that her demographic, and most importantly, Bush supports, are normal Americans. Everyone else is abnormal. Freakish deviants whose ideals have mutated into something that needs to be looked down upon and pitied.

From www.ablogistan.com:

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  • Maurice

    You said ‘Kerry’ and ‘intellectual’ in the same sentence. Most people probably already knew that GWB is not a country boy. And finally, you could make a living writing about the mistaken and/or insulting statements made by RL and LI.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Different kind of elite. The elites we Rebublicans refer to are those that are out of step with regular folks. They have spent their entire adult lives cloistered in liberal enclaves. I mentioned in another comment that my neighbor who is a Jr College Drama adjunct said that he doesn’t know anyone other than me who admits to being a conserative. He and I live on the same street, drive equivelent cars, etc., but he knows nothing about how or why I think the way I do.

    It is similar to a comment made by my African American neighbor across the street. He said that I could never know how he sees things. To make the point he asked “How would you feel if you knew that some people you meet would rather kiss their dog on the lips than shake your hand.”

  • http://www.ablogistan.com Elyas Bakhtiari

    Randy,

    There you go, using the exact same phrase as Ingraham, saying liberals are out of step with “regular folks.” When the country is almost split politically, what makes your side “regular” and the other side elitist? I’m not here to say Republicans or Democrats are more elitist than the other. I think they both have their moments, but Democrats have been branded as elitist, and conservative elitism is overlooked.

    As far as your example, I’ve meet conservatives in Texas who’ve never met a liberal. It happens on both sides.

  • SFC SKI

    I think you’d better define your terms Elyas, “elite” and “elitist” are a bit too broad. Tell me what you mean by these terms and I will tell you if I agree.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    What is an enclave and how does one spend their life cloistered in one? Is that like an Afghanistan cave or do we just want to paint a picture like that?

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    I find Rush’s comments illuminating: they highlight very well the Republican elite’s successful PR campaign against the “liberal elite” as compared with their true feelings. In Rush’s case, at least, anyway.

    The truth is that there are “elite” in both Republican and Democratic circles. A friend of mine makes the successful argument that the Democratic mission in this sense is to not deny that its elites are elitist but to make sure that people see that the Repubs are no different.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    hey steve, how come me & e.b. never see you at the liberal enclave meetings?

    😉

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The Republican Elite is the moneyed elite and the elite of those who put gaining wealth and position as their first priority. They believe they deserve to run the country because they have proven they can be successful in their own lives.

    The Democrat Elite is the elite of privelege, birth and education. They believe they can best run the country because they have the knowledge and experience to do so, passed down from prior generations and learned in school.

    The Republican rank and file are hard working people who hope through their efforts to advance themselves and believe that anyone who works hard enough can become a success. The attitude of this group is that if they don’t earn enough money then thye need to find a way to earn more. This group includes a lot of those who are self-employed, run small businesses and work for themselves – a growing portion of our population.

    The Democratic rank and file are hard working people who are frustrated by the fact that they are in jobs where advancement is slow and controlled by the corporate structure and where advancement is based on merit as perceived from above, rather than as determined solely by their own efforts. They depend on someone else to write them a paycheck and if they feel they don’t earn enough money their answer is that they need to make their employer pay them more or recognize their proper worth. Unions are the perfect answer to their problems, because unions will get them the pay they deserve.

    So what you have in the contest between these two parties – not including the religious aspect – is a conflict between an alliance of businessmen and entrepreneurs versus an alliance of intellectuals and business employees.

    Ok, it’s oversimplified, but I think basically true.

    Dave

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    My bad. Sure there are jillions of regular folks in the Democrat ranks. And there are conservatives who never read liberal material or hang out with liberal folks. I have noticed that outside of my neighborhood friends, almost all of my other associations are pretty conservative. That’s why I read the liberal press and like to come to places like this.

    However, I think the dominant leadership in the Democrat party comes from people who think they are better than the rest of us and are way more self righteous that most conservative Christian leaders. They think they are better because of education, who they hang out with, or just because they are so darn open (which usually means open to messing up stuff that wasn’t broke and not open to clear thinking on keeping in place what has worked well for a long time.

    I’m rambling. I’ll quit.

  • http://uncledexterity.blogs.friendster.com/lameass_blog/ Tristan

    “The Democrat Elite is the elite of privelege, birth and education. They believe they can best run the country because they have the knowledge and experience to do so, passed down from prior generations and learned in school.”
    “The Republican rank and file are hard working people who hope through their efforts to advance themselves and believe that anyone who works hard enough can become a success.”

    I fail to see how either of these generalizations apply so broadly. There are people on both sides that have worked hard to get a good position in life. Tom DeLay (republican) and Bill Clinton (democrat) come to mind. Additionally, there are those who come from wealthy families and have things handed to them. I’m thinking of George W. Bush (republican) and to use everyone else’s example, John Kerry (democrat)

    I don’t think what’s important here is how one attains their power. What seperates people is more typically their socio-econmic background. I would challenge the statement of Kirk’s neighbor by saying that I would have far more in common with a black man of similar economic background than with a white man that lives in a mansion. Would there still be differences? Of course. I don’t claim to know what anybody goes through in their childhood or adulthood for that matter. However, I would suspect that I would share a lot of the same experiences with people that had similar economic backgrounds than with any other group.

    It doesn’t matter if you are one type of an elite or another. EIther way, if you don’t live the life of the common man, you are automatically out of touch with the common man. You can go out and hunt and clear brush all you want, but as long as you’re using a $5,000 rifle or clearing brush on your 100+ acre ranch, you are not experiencing the life of the common man.

    However, this doesn’t mean that people with means cannot do anything for those that are not as well-to-do.

    I guess my point is that party affiliation is practically meaningless when discussing elite versus non-elite. It’s just a different shade of rich.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I fail to see how either of these generalizations apply so broadly. < <

    I did say that I was way oversimplifying. They're generalizations, but they tend to bear out in a lot of cases, but with the usual notable exceptions.

    >>It doesn’t matter if you are one type of an elite or another. EIther way, if you don’t live the life of the common man, you are automatically out of touch with the common man. You can go out and hunt and clear brush all you want, but as long as you’re using a $5,000 rifle or clearing brush on your 100+ acre ranch, you are not experiencing the life of the common man. <<

    But what you can do is to some extent share the life of the common man. You can hang out at the same bars, go to the same BBQ cookoffs, attend the same church and maybe join the Rotary Club or Elks Lodge and brush elbows with him. Lots of things like that bring people of different social and economic backgrounds together. It’s through doing things like that – and moving to a small town in rural Texas – that I know that the common man is more likely to own an expensive gun (only competitive marksmen and collectors own $5000 guns) and 100 acres of land (that little land isn’t a ranch) than someone from the elite is.

    You can even make your son go out and work in the oil fields so he gets to know the common man, if you’re a responsible elitist father.

    The point is that everyone is or can be the common man if they want to be. It’s something you can learn to understand just like getting an MBA. An MBA isn’t the same as the experience you get from running a business, but it lets you understand business. Associating and observing common men isn’t the same as being one, but if you’re good at it you can certainly understand them.

    Bit of a tangent, but it’s something I think about as someone who came from an elite background and ultimately decided to live with the common folks.

    Dave

  • http://uncledexterity.blogs.friendster.com/lameass_blog/ Tristan

    I’m not going to jump to any conclusions since I don’t know thing one about your life, but you say you were a member of the elite and decided to live with the common folks. I am having a little trouble believeing this as I understand it. When I think elite, I think yachts and mansions. When I think common man, I think blue collar steel worker or something of that persuasion.

    Also, I never said that someone from the elite can’t sympathise with a member of a lower class. I neglected to mention this in my post and you are right to point it out. However, one is still essentially removed from that class when they are not undertaking the same experiences. Sure you can join the same clubs, but are you going to have to ever debate whether you can afford the dues for the month? Do you wonder if you hurt yourself actually working in the oil fields whether your insurance will provide enough income for your family to get by?

    My point is that you can sympathise and you can get along with and even be friends with people outside of your economic class. There is no argument to be made against that. However, my point is that you are still out of touch in a sense. You don’t get the full picture. This is exactly what you said when you wrote, “Associating and observing common men isn’t the same as being one, but if you’re good at it you can certainly understand them.” But it is this point that makes me confused about your ending statement that I began this post with. How does one choose or learn to be a common man? Can I learn to be a member of the elite? My argument would be no. To use your argument, somebody with an MBA is not a businessman until he experiences the running of a business. The same applies to class. One does not just become a common man by rubbing elbows with them at functions.

    I’m not saying in any way that rich people are automatically insensitive to hardships faced by people lower down on the ecomic ladder. I think that they can often see injustices being done and be more apalled than those who live it every day and be more motivated and more able to deal with the situation than someone that has to work two jobs just to survive.

    I just take issue with people saying that one party affiliation is more in tune with the common man. I can’t speak to voters in particular, but it seems to me that many politicians come from families that are well off. Few make it to a national level without family connections. If they do, they are out of the norm. This goes for both republicans and democrats. And that was my attempted point all along.

    Oh, and as to the gun and acreage comments, I should have used an example I knew more about. I have no idea how much land a single acre consists of, nor do I know how much a gun costs. My point was just that you might enjoy the same activities, but that doesn’t mean you share them in the same ways. I might play basketball, but if I’m the common man, I play on the playground on a cement court where the rims are netless. If I’m a member of the elite, I play in a very nice gym and wear very nice shoes.

    Again, there’s nothing wrong with this discrepency. I just find it hard to believe that one person is more in touch with the common man than another because he enjoys the same activities as the common man. Unless you’re doing something that requires a lot of money to do, like polo for example, then you’re always doing something the common man does.

    I’m getting tired of typing.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>I’m not going to jump to any conclusions since I don’t know thing one about your life, but you say you were a member of the elite and decided to live with the common folks. I am having a little trouble believeing this as I understand it. When I think elite, I think yachts and mansions. When I think common man, I think blue collar steel worker or something of that persuasion.< <

    I think your definitions are too extreme. In general terms, I grew up among people who lived in mansions and had yachts, but I now live by choice among people who don't. I live in a rural community where most people are by no means wealthy and certainly work hard, but they are not poor even if they would not be defined as rich either.

    >>Also, I never said that someone from the elite can’t sympathise with a member of a lower class.< <<

    There's a difference between sympathizing with them the way you might with a hurt puppy, and actually understanding their needs and issues. I think it is possible to do the latter.

    >>are you going to have to ever debate whether you can afford the dues for the month? Do you wonder if you hurt yourself actually working in the oil fields whether your insurance will provide enough income for your family to get by? < <

    No, but I can see others having these problems and through their experience come to understand those issues.

    >>But it is this point that makes me confused about your ending statement that I began this post with. How does one choose or learn to be a common man? Can I learn to be a member of the elite? My argument would be no. To use your argument, somebody with an MBA is not a businessman until he experiences the running of a business. The same applies to class. One does not just become a common man by rubbing elbows with them at functions.< <

    That's more or less what I said. But even if you can't actually become one of them you can certainly learn what their needs and concerns are well enough to do things like represent them in Congress.

    >>Oh, and as to the gun and acreage comments, I should have used an example I knew more about. I have no idea how much land a single acre consists of, nor do I know how much a gun costs. My point was just that you might enjoy the same activities, but that doesn’t mean you share them in the same ways. I might play basketball, but if I’m the common man, I play on the playground on a cement court where the rims are netless. If I’m a member of the elite, I play in a very nice gym and wear very nice shoes. < <

    Unless, of course, as a member of the elite, you want to go play where the really good players are, in which case you scuff up your shoes and go play on the concrete court in the poorer neighborhood.

    >>Again, there’s nothing wrong with this discrepency. I just find it hard to believe that one person is more in touch with the common man than another because he enjoys the same activities as the common man. Unless you’re doing something that requires a lot of money to do, like polo for example, then you’re always doing something the common man does.<<

    Sure, but if you make the effort to interract with and share in the experiences of the ‘common man’, then you’re going to understand him better than if you sit in an ivory tower reading statistics about poverty and employment and using that as your basis for understanding him.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Dave, you hoist yourself with your own petard: you CHOOSE not to live among mansions and yachts. You can walk away from where you are and go back to those mansions and country-club parties; the rest of us can’t. We have no choice now, and probably won’t in future…unless, of course, we want to become servants and work for the wealthy, but somehow I don’t think that’s quite the same thing. Therein lies the BIIIIIIIG difference between the elite and the ‘common’ man – or woman: the elite are rich enough to choose; the common folk are not.

  • Nancy

    P.S. Dave, if you go to New England, CA, WI, or MD or some other ‘blue’ area, you’ll find plenty of self-employed Democrats who run small businesses and work for themselves. And in the company I work for, most of the employees are some degree of Republican. Also, in the course of 8 years w/the IRS, I met many, many people who were rich. I would say every last one of them had little or no interest in mixing with the non-elite like themselves, unless there was an ulterior payoff, such as garnering votes at election time. Then, and only then, did these elite/wealthy persons deign to dirty themselves among the ‘common’ elements. And again – they had the choice of not doing so afterwards. The wealthy/elite have always been very, very good at convincing themselves they aren’t any different from po’ folks, especially when there’s a payoff for them, like getting out of taxes, or pretending to be a good ol’ boy, like W. who stems from – what is it? 6? – generations of overprivileged and obscenely wealthy elites of one sort or another.

  • http://www.ablogistan.com Elyas Bakhtiari

    I guess I should have titled my post, “Conservative Elitism,” rather than “The Conservative Elite,” because I was talking about the former (and most of the comments are about the latter).

    There are of course elite in both parties. Statistically, Republicans tend to be the wealthier party but Democrats tend to be better educated. Both parties have members in both classes.

    What I wanted to discuss was the labels that have been put on the parties. Somehow, in the last few years, it seems conservatives have been extremely successful in controling the public image of both parties. They have painted liberals as elitists, out of touch with the main stream. More specifically, latte-drinking, New-York-Times-reading, stuck-up snobs.

    The point of my post was to show that conservatives can be just as stuck up and elitist.

  • Nancy

    So can poor people, or any minority, oddly enough. I think it’s endemic to the human critter to try to create a ‘me, mine, us’ vs a ‘them, theirs’ type distinction. I’ll take it even lower: look at any group of animals, even insects, and all who sustain any kind of group associations whatsoever make distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’, with ‘us’ being ‘the elite’…because after all, who ever wants to be the riff-raff, LOL?

  • MCH

    “…Oh, yeah. Election Day a holiday. I don’t dknow why they need to do that. Most of their voters don’t work anyway…”
    – Rush Limbaugh

    Lardbaugh’s resentment towards an Election Day holiday is not surprising, when one understands that this self-proclaimed “great American patriot” did not even vote in his first election until he was 35 years old. And his “they don’t work” comment is particularly hypocritical, considering that before striking it rich as a radio talk show host, Lardbaugh himself took full advantage of unemployment benefits several times between firings as a disc jockey.
    (source: THE RUSH LIMBAUGH STORY by Paul Colford)

    “The Democrat Elite is the elite of privilege, birth and education.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Actually, this definition may be applied to Rush Limbaugh, pertaining to his draft dodging during the Vietnam War. After high school, Lardbaugh, whose father was one of the richest lawyers in Missouri, used student deferments for 1 1/2 years to avoid service until he dropped out of college. Then in the spring of 1970, after drawing a lottery number of 152 (well below the cut-off of 190), he sought and was awarded a medical deferment from his family doctor, for an ingrown hair on his rear-end. Biographer Paul Colford’s research uncovered the fact that the granting physician and Limbaugh’s father were close, personal friends.
    (source: THE RUSH LIMBAUGH STORY)

  • Bob

    The problem I see with making Election day a national holiday is as follows.

    1) We allready have days most people don’t work. they are called weekends.

    2) would this be only presidential elections? Mid term congressional elections? I don’t know about most other states, but here in Washington anytime you need to get something passed that you know won’t gain majority support, they have a “special election”, one held outside normal elections, usually just 1 subject. they know that those supporting the bill will turn out disproportionatly.

    We voted NO for both our stadiums. 1 they squeaked through with a special election, & 1 the legislature overturned the peoples will, & declared it an “emergency” in order to prevent a referendum that they knew they would lose.

    Now we are paying taxes scheduled to run longer than most of our lifetimes, just so that a bunch of semi-literate millionaires can become even richer semi-literate millionaires.

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    You’re getting your conservative (or “conservatie,” as the author puts it) information from Rush and Dr. Laura?

    Why not get a better picture of why people voted for Bush by listening to them instead of lazily listening about them like they’re on display in a natural history museum?

    But it’s a bipartisan problem, as so many GOPs got their drawers in a bunch over Michael Moore, thinking he spoke for the common liberal, while Moore actually went out and spoke with common Republicans before he wrote about them during the 2004 RNC.

    Listen to each other, not other pundits. Listen to Rush (and Ann Coulter, for that matter) for entertainment purposes only. But most importantly, never listen to Dr. Laura.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Moore’s article is right on the mark, hard though that is to admit. The only major error is that what he and the Neocons call RINOs are the real Republicans and the majority in the population, and the extremists who he believes run the party are the minority who diverge from true GOP tradition.

    Just think about it. Which group would Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater fit in with more, the Neocons or the fiscally conservative socially liberal Republicans?

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave, you hoist yourself with your own petard: you CHOOSE not to live among mansions and yachts.< <

    I made the choice to pursue a different life course long enough ago that I can't just reclaim that life. I'll eventually inherit some money, but the family fortune is divided among more than 40 people in my generation so it's not a lot. To have stayed in that life I would have had to go into a career other than academia and the arts.

    >> You can walk away from where you are and go back to those mansions and country-club parties; < <

    Sure, I can go back and visit, but I can't even justify the cost of taking over my parents membership at the Chevy Chase Club, much less moving back to DC with kids and all.

    Yes, I have some of the benefits of a priveleged background - good education and the like - but with an income that you might say makes me rich, but which really doesn't by the standards I grew up around, I'm not off to buy a yacht or a villa in the south of France any time soon. And if I do ever get those things it will be as a result of my own success, not inherited wealth.

    >>the rest of us can’t. We have no choice now, and probably won’t in future…unless, of course, we want to become servants and work for the wealthy, but somehow I don’t think that’s quite the same thing. Therein lies the BIIIIIIIG difference between the elite and the ‘common’ man – or woman: the elite are rich enough to choose; the common folk are not.<<

    Um, you could work really hard, find a way to develop and market your skills, and become enormously successful and wealthy based on your own good ideas and business acumen. It’s happened before, and the internet has made it easier than it ever has been in the past.

    Dave

  • kenny

    John Kerry’s college grades were lower than George Bush’s and all along he was proclaiming to the world that he was an intellectual. The truth has come out and now it can not be denied that John Kerry is not only a dishonest creep he is also a moronic imbecile.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Having a 2.5 GPA in college doesn’t make you an imbecile, Kenny. Virtually the only way to get a GPA that low if you’re bright enough to get into an ivy league school in the first place is to screw around and not do a lot of your work, bomb a couple of classes because you blew them off, and generally act like a spoiled rich kid on his own for the first time.

    So their low GPAs say zero about how intelligent Bush and Kerry actually are and much more about what kind of people they were in college.

    Dave

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