We’re all Elitists Now, but the Elites are Laughing at Us.

The subtle shift from a “Democratic Versus Republican” dichotemy to a “red State versus blue State” dichotemy, a cynic similar yet completely distinct from me may say, could represent more and more meaningless and minute policy differences between the two parties (Tweedle Dee. Tweedle Dum. You know the drill.), and thus a harder focus on cultural differences. The two parties become nothing more than cultural signifiers, and in many ways accidental ones at that. Call it “identity politics”, remind yourself of what they said about Adlai Stevenson voters, and throw in your chips while you’re at it.

Well, actually what they said about Adlai Stevenson was that he was an Elitist. I have a vague sense that this is where the current attachment for the phrase came from… the Liberal Elites and psuedo-intelligentsia mocking the popular Dwight D Eisenhower’s simple charm. Most famously, he quipped to the comment, “You have the vote of every thinking person!” with “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”

The resultant commentary emitting from the recent election, of the Blue State versus Red State variety, tells me: We’re all elitists now. The faux “Red State populism” attacks on “Blue State elitists” isn’t fooling me. They’re sneering right down at us and our values over there in the Heartland.

It’s not as simple as that, of course. I’m counting roughly two varieties of Red State elitists. The Ann Coulter type, who as far as I can tell has never stepped foot in Rural America — though her denziens (not necessarily her, though I don’t know) love to wax poetic and mythological about “Red State”rs, whose pronouncements on hedonism ring indelibly hollow, and who certainly don’t showcase any “if they were more homespun, they’d be a sweater” characteristics. And, a type I’ll represent with your bible-thumper: isn’t it the height of elitist thinking to think that everyone who is not exactly like you is going to Hell?

The actual Elites, supposedly representing the “just plain folk” of whatever color, are busy laughing. Take the call to “Unite Behind the President” now that the election is over. For what possible reason would I want to do such a thing? And even if I wanted to, I have no clue what that actually entails. It’s just sort of nonsensical. I didn’t know what that meant when that call came out after 9/11, and I sure as hell don’t now. Yet, there it is… out of Bill Clinton’s mouth.

I once said to a friend of mine about three days before the election — and I heard all these terrible things. I said, you know, am I the only person in the entire United States of America who likes both George Bush and John Kerry, who believes they’re both good people, who believes they both love our country and they just see the world differently?

Maybe it’s easy enough for Clinton to make such comments, because at the heart of it he rarely seemed to stand for much, and stare at his 1996 campaign and how he molded the DNC during his presidency and I could swear he preferred a Republican Congress, since politically it offered a good foil with which to work off of.

The conventional wisdom of the current Republican Party — that its heart and soul were borne out Barry Goldwater’s “crusade” — is wrong. Perhaps Goldwater, and the attendant conservatism of Reagan and whatnot — are at its heart (though even Goldwater evolved into a maverick who felt compelled to rip on the religious right and assorted right-wingers who were leaving him cold) — but it’s soul is of a darker complexion. It’s Richard Nixon and Watergate. Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra. George Bush I and the Savings and Loan Scandal. (And you pretty well have to dunk Bush in with Reagan’s bathwater as well… but then again, a thread of the same names runs through all of these presidents.) And George W Bush and assorted crap I can’t even keep track of anymore. The ideology falls away from the “right to left” map. (After all, Nixon was the last of the “Post New Deal”-era presidents… Ford on down all have been in a Post-Post New Deal de-regulatory phase.) If you doubt that, I present to you Oliver North — Fox News personality, radio talk show host, almost won a Senate seat in 1994, and a Right-wing icon and hero. I present to you a list of various Iran Contra figures who have been plunked right into the current Bush Administration — (remember Poindexter?). And I present to you the very galls of pointing Henry Kissinger, however short-lived, to head the 9/11 Commission.

I am reminded of an online election-months editorial (I think written by Matthew Yglesias), speculating on what would happen to the Republican Party should they lose… and coming up with the idea that they’re a more effective opposition party — in the sense that if your reason for living is to oppose the government, it becomes hard to oppose you as the government, and look at the results: fiscal health under Clinton, not so much under Bush. But realizing that Kerry’s career highlights have been in Investigation, that Edwards represents the constituency of trial lawyers — if they had their act together (which they don’t), the Democratic Party could easily be a natural oppostion party to the the kind of Bid Gummint Nixon-Reagan-Bush represents.

Who the hell knows, though?

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