|Regular (Real (White)) American being observed by|
one of The New Elite. (artist's rendering)
The tea party warns of a New Elite. They're right. The tea party appears to be of one mind on at least one thing: 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." How do you know if you're a regular person? You're watching Glenn Beck. (Obviously.)
Regular people such as myself, Charles Murray (whoever the fuck I am--I mean, not even me has heard of me), who works for the right-wing libertarian Cato Institute, I'm just a regular person with regular values who works for a regular right-wing think-tank funded by a regular billionaire (Koch) and based on the philosophy of a regular atheist Russian ex-patriate/chain-smoking/philosopher/author/narcissist who believed that 'greed is the greatest good'. Just like all the regular Americans out there. I mean, go to any small town in the U.S. with more churches than bookstores and you freakin' know that this is atheist-libertarian territory.
The elites are "no longer in touch with what the country is really thinking," Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle complained this summer. Simply because her opponent, Senator Harry Reid, grew up sand-poor but rich in parental beatings, went to non-elite, non-Ivy League colleges in Utah, this doesn't mean that he isn't one of them.
This is what makes Elitism so insidious--it can happen to anyone, at anytime. Like Islam. One day, you're receiving the Eucharist, and suddenly it's Monday and you're praying towards Mecca.
After all, did he stand up and proudly say, like Christine O'Donnell has, "Not only did I not go to Yale, I didn't even go to college." This is the thing that regular Americans love: Ignorance.
But the Elite have fought back, sometimes even arguing that ignorance is a flaw, not a virtue. But of course darlings you'll say that. You, The Elite, have struggled against ignorance all of your lives, and yet it rises up again and again like Hercules' hydra--one head is lopped and a dozen more sprout in its place.
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. And by observe I mean watch Glenn Beck et al and re-vomit his opinions.
Let me propose that those allegations have merit.
One of the easiest ways to make the point is to start with the principal gateway to membership in the New Elite, the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities. In the idealized view of the meritocrats, those schools were once the bastion of the Northeastern Establishment, favoring bluebloods and the wealthy, but now they are peopled by youth from all backgrounds who have gained admittance through talent, pluck and hard work.
That idealized view is only half-right. Over the past several decades, elite schools have indeed sought out academically talented students from all backgrounds. But the skyrocketing test scores of the freshman classes at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and other elite schools in the 1950s and 1960s were not accompanied by socioeconomic democratization.
On the surface, it looks as if things have changed. Compared with 50 years ago, the proportion of students coming from old-money families and exclusive prep schools has dropped. The representation of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans has increased. Yet the student bodies of the elite colleges are still drawn overwhelmingly from the upper middle class. According to sociologist Joseph Soares's book "The Power of Privilege: Yale and America's Elite Colleges," about four out of five students in the top tier of colleges have parents whose income, education and occupations put them in the top quarter of American families, according to Soares's measure of socioeconomic status. Only about one out of 20 such students come from the bottom half of families.
The discomfiting explanation is that despite need-blind admissions policies, the stellar applicants still hail overwhelmingly from the upper middle class and above. Students who have a parent with a college degree accounted for only 55 percent of SAT-takers this year but got 87 percent of all the verbal and math scores above 700, according to unpublished data provided to me by the College Board. This is not a function of SAT prep courses available to the affluent -- such coaching buys only a few dozen points -- but of the ability of these students to do well in a challenging academic setting.
Surely this is insanity. To allow students into college based on their ability to perform in college is...DISCRMINATION. Against Regular (Real (White)) Americans. The WASP aristocracy has been supplanted the WASP-Asian-Jewish-Catholic-And-God-Forbid-Even-Black meritocracy.
Far from spending their college years in a meritocratic melting pot, the New Elite spend school with people who are mostly just like them -- which might not be so bad, except that so many of them have been ensconced in affluent suburbs from birth and have never been outside the bubble of privilege. Few of them grew up in the small cities, towns or rural areas where more than a third of all Americans still live.
When they leave college, the New Elite remain in the bubble. Harvard seniors surveyed in 2007 were headed toward a small number of elite graduate schools (Harvard and Cambridge in the lead) and a small number of elite professional fields (finance and consulting were tied for top choice). Jobs in businesses that provide bread-and-butter goods and services to individual Americans, which make up the overwhelming majority of entry-level openings for aspiring managers, attracted just 1.7 percent of the Harvard students who went to work right after graduation.
After leaving their elite schools with their elite degrees, they then go to elite graduate schools, get elite jobs, live in exclusive elite neighborhoods, marry elite spouses, eat elite sandwhiches, wipe their asses with elite toilet paper, read elite books and magazines, watch elitist television, attend elitist sporting events, use elite bathrooms, go to elite hospitals, die in elite hospices, and are buried in elite cemeteries.
In brief, the system hates Real America. The America that loves to read and especially loves to read Ayn Rand (ask any pork farmer), is forced to work at the Cato Institute instead of Harvard (dicks).
The New Elite marry each other, combining their large incomes and genius genes, and then produce offspring who get the benefit of both. With increasing cortical size comes increasing socialism and decreasing ignorance. The ability tolerate the utter crap that the media shovels out by electronic bucketfuls such as game shows and Oprah are perceived as "not so interesting". When I write a book that's essentially a racist diatribe about genetic differences between races, The Elite ignore it, using nasty phrases such as 'unsubstantiated', 'no evidence', or 'total crap'.
Unlike Regular Americans, The Elite will ply you with excuses when you try to talk them, claiming they are "on their way to perform surgery" or "have to litigate an appeal", even when you say you have beer and pretzels.
Regular Americans do not conform to others (go to any church); The Elite do. And that is why you always seem them acting like elitists.
Therefore, The New New Elites are not really Americans.