Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

10.26.2010

Flaming Liberal Yet Not Elite

So I stumbled across this article, which links to the original quiz, which is based on this article, which argues that:

America has been taken over by a New Elite.

"On one side, we have the elites," Fox News host Glenn Beck explained last month, "and the other side, we have the regular people." The elites are "no longer in touch with what the country is really thinking," Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle complained this summer. And when Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell recently began a campaign ad by saying, "I didn't go to Yale," she could be confident that her supporters would approve. . . .

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. . . .


The article defines at length this new class of elites, and the quiz is based on these defining characteristics as spelled out. Not even making the quiz is the basic assumption of the principal gateway to membership in the New Elite, the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities. I'm afraid I went to a minor state college in a midwestern state, so I clearly lack even the basic qualification. Here are my answers to the quiz.

1. Can you talk about "Mad Men?" No.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

2. Can you talk about the "The Sopranos?" No.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right?" I think . . . Drew Carey?
(Plebe answer: No.)

4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga? No.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

6. How about pilates? No.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

7. How about skiing? Not really--haven't been since college.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

8. Mountain biking? No. Road cycling, yes, but not mountain biking.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

9. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? Football coach
(Plebe answer: Football coach--the non-plebe answer is race-car driver.)

10. Does the acronym MMA mean anything to you? Mixed martial arts?
(Plebe answer: No.)

11. Can you talk about books endlessly? Of course.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

12. Have you ever read a "Left Behind" novel? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

13. How about a Harlequin romance? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

14. Do you take interesting vacations? Probably not as defined by this author.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

15. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? No.
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

16. What about an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor? No. (Where's that?)
(Plebe answer: Yes.)

17. Would you be caught dead in an RV? I haven't had the opportunity, but I would.
(Plebe answer: No.)

18. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship? I've been on three.
(Plebe answer: No.)

19. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? Yes.
(Plebe answer: No.)

20. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

21. How about the Rotary Club? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

22. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town? Until I was 20.
(Plebe answer: No.)

23. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? For 10 years.
(Plebe answer: No.)

24. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line? Yes.
(Plebe answer: No.)

25. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Liberal evangelical, yes.
(Plebe answer: No.)

26. Have you ever visited a factory floor? Yes.
(Plebe answer: No.)

27. Have you worked on one? No.
(Plebe answer: No.)

So according to this, I only meet 8 of the 27 criteria; I'm only 30% elite.

There are so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. . . . 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.

The author claims it's not about politics so much as class values--that Republicans qualify every bit as much as Democrats--but too much of his article focuses on the tea party and too much of his language reflects tea party values for me not to feel targeted within the greater context. I've experienced most of these "quintessentially American" things and don't qualify as an elite according to the author's criteria, yet somehow I still oppose the tea party and have radically opposite political beliefs. Do you suppose, just maybe, it's possible to be liberal, to value education and knowledge, and still be "regular people" and "mainstream American?"

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