A stunning number of American politicians are doing something entirely new in our nation’s political history: running against the voter. Pretty soon they’ll be turning up their noses if somebody wants a baby kissed.
Senator John Kerry is the latest to come out foursquare against the voter.
“We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or truth or what’s happening,” said the senator from windsurfing. This may not be the best way to woo voters.
The most visible voter to annoy a political figure recently is Velma Hart, a typical middle-class citizen, an African American mother, employed but worried about the economy. She famously addressed her concerns to the president at a town-hall meeting. Rich Lowry comments:
If only Hart were sufficiently plugged in, she’d have the sense to get over her economic anxiety. So what if she fears returning to frank-and-beans dinners? Does John Kerry carp when he’s forced to move his $7 million yacht from Rhode Island to Massachusetts, where he has to shoulder an added $500,000 tax bill?
What on earth is going on here? Our politicians aren’t even pretending to like us. I’d like to call your attention to a piece that appeared in the American Spectator this summer by Angelo Codevilla. It was on the new upper crust. I think it explains why politicians disdain the voter. Codevilla writes:
Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. …
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.
Codevilla notes that this is not a phenomenon limited to one political party. Both parties want to take and spend our money:
When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country.
I can’t help thinking that the midterms are all about wanting those we employ with our votes to listen to us. We’re not just an ATM Machine for an elite that disdains us.
While we’re on the subject, the always interesting <A href="http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/antaeus-and-the-tea-party/ ” target=_blank>Stanley Fish ties the voter disdain to the smugness about-ahem-untraditional candidates in today’s New York Times:
Commentators who explain smugly that O’Donnell’s position on masturbation (that it is a selfish, solitary act) is contradicted by her Ayn Rand-like attack on collectivism, or who wax self-righteous about Paladino’s comparing Sheldon Silver to Hitler and promising to wield a baseball bat in Albany, or who laugh at Sharron Angle for being in favor of Scientology (she denies it) and against fluoridation and the Department of Education, are doing these candidates a huge favor. They are saying, in effect, these people are stupid, they’re jokes; and the implication (sometimes explicitly stated) is that anyone who takes them the least bit seriously doesn’t get the joke and is stupid, too.
We the people hear this and know who is being talked about, and react with anger: “Don’t presume to tell me what to think and whom to vote for just because you have more degrees than I do. I don’t know much about these people but if you guys are against them, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”