“We the people…” So starts off the Constitution, a document written by a group of white male elitists, but elitists who understood that a government that would endure and serve all of the people of the new United States had to be responsive to those people.
The framers may have been elite, but now we have elitists who, by definition, believe they are smarter and better suited to make decisions for the rest of us than we are, and are quite happy to impose their values, for the “common good,” on society. The president and his elitist henchmen have largely abandoned every other part of the Constitution, so why not the first three words?
“Elitist” — usually preceded by “liberal” — is a word much used these days about our dear leaders in Washington, as well it might be. Elitist heads of state are, of course, nothing new to the world; until sometime in the late 18th century the world was largely ruled by monarchs who were, indeed, elitists. Nobody questioned what the monarchs did, and the monarchs gave no concern to what their subjects thought. Similarly, the dictatorships that ruled a good part of the world throughout the 20th century were also headed by elitists. They may have come to power differently than kings, and were often not as benign, but the power they held over their subjects, and the concern they had for the opinions of the public, were about the same. Only a few countries, mostly in the Arab world, still have such governments.
But that is not to say that the elitists have disappeared. In Washington, they are very much in charge, and they display about the same concern for the opinions of their subjects as the kings and dictators of times gone by. We all know the numbers by now: only about one-third of the public approves of the health care bill recently defiantly signed by the president, and even fewer approve of other Obama initiatives, such as the “cap and tax” bill and immigration reform. The huge deficits run up over the past 18 months get even lower marks, but Washington’s elitists couldn’t care less.
In his new book The Battle (reviewed in this issue by Brian Anderson) Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, reports that about 70 percent of Americans dislike big-government solutions to our problems and instead prefer the free enterprise system and all that comes with it. The other 30 percent or so, Brooks points out, are the cultural elite — the lawyers, educators, journalists, entertainers and, increasingly, Wall Street tycoons, who are often rich and possess disproportionate power to their numbers. These are the people who care little about what “We the People” think and who know they are smarter than the rest of us and know what’s good for us and what our inner desires really are.
Bill Buckley once famously said that he would rather be governed by the first couple of hundred people in the Boston telephone book than by the Harvard faculty. Buckley got it right, as he usually did; when Barack Obama recently introduced Elena Kagan, his newest Supreme Court nominee (Upper West Side of New York, Princeton, Harvard Law School, professor and dean of Harvard Law School) to the world, he announced that she understands the law “as it affects the lives of ordinary people,” adding that her presence will make the court “more reflective of us as a people than ever before.”
Which ordinary people would those be? More reflective of whom? Who said the elitists are not in charge?
And if you really want to know just how brazenly in charge they are, you will not miss Angelo Codevilla’s magnificent essay in this, our double summer issue. His piece gives new meaning to the term tour de force –– and captures the growing resistance this entrenched ruling class has inspired. The People, it would appear, are ready to be taken seriously again.