Geneology of ‘Elitism’

Andrew Sullivan brings up what I’ve been harping on since McCain picked his running mate, and with the release of these tape transcripts it’s fun to bring up again. The Republican fear of the ‘elite’ is what has killed the party. And much of this way of thinking that became visceral in the Republican Party stems from Nixon’s war against ‘elitist’ intellectuals and policy makers. Here’s a sample of his views:

NIXON: “The Ivy League [university] presidents? Why, I’ll never let those sons-of-b—— in the White House again. Never, never, never. They’re finished. The Ivy League schools are finished … Henry, I would never have had them in. Don’t do that again … They came out against us when it was tough … Don’t ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never.”

Fine, the liberal tendencies of some of the ‘elite’ schools then may have made him angry, for instance Harvard outlawed the ROTC back then (and still does actually) in protest to the War, but his opinion here only lends itself to his overall ideology against intellectualism (or whatever -ism regards academic or mind deduction as imperative). His speech writers lampooned the “pusillanimous pussyfooters”, “hopeless hysterical hypochondriacs of history”, “nattering nabobs of negativism”, and “effete corps of impudent snobs”, just a few of his favorite epithets for liberal opponents in the media and academia.

Fast forward to Dan Quayle and his appetite for the ‘cultural elite’, in reference to the vast conspiracy to undermine Middle America, what most recently Palin termed “real America” or the “very pro-America areas of this great nation” (as opposed to us anti-Americans). When a party has been fighting this war for so long it’s no wonder that the media favored Obama so much during this campaign: Journalists tend to be smarter, more educated ‘elitists’.

I’m just saying, when you alienate the smartest demographics by pushing the far-right agenda instead of a centrist agenda of intellectual deduction, the results are going to be bad these days, just as they were for McCain/Palin. It was a far cry from real Conservative (with a capital ‘c’) intellectualism styled by William F. Buckley and Russel Kirk, the true pioneers of a stable, intelligent movement from the right. This lower-case conservatism will not succeed until it can ‘capitalize’ on its centrist (‘elitist’) ideals as well.


~ by The Common Man on December 3, 2008.

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