Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Elitist Candidate

Once again Barack Obama has been targeted for being an elitist. Those so-called hard-working, white voters certainly know a leadership deficiency when they see one. Too bad they weren’t around to sandbag the nominations of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and JFK, for all of these presidents were unabashed elitists. Thomas Jefferson embraced scientific intellectual pursuits, spoke French, and had actually visited France. God forbid. The same was true for Ben Franklin who was also an elitist. All four of the faces on Mount Rushmore would be elitist icons if not for the fact that Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin, and that he struggled with bi-polar depression all his life.

George W. Bush came from, perhaps, the noblest stock of all. Surrounded from birth by tremendous wealth and power, he could easily have slipped into elitism. However, wisely anticipating that he would one-day need to curry favor with hard-working white voters, he transformed himself at the earliest opportunity into a drunken frat boy, and then stayed at that performance level throughout his adult life right up to the present time. By forging an anti-intellectual, non-elitist skill set early on, he was able to put together a remarkable resume of business failures before starting his political career. Success came his way when Karl Rove entered the picture. Rove wisely understood that most Americans fail more than they succeed, and they would identify with candidate Bush based on the kindred qualities shared by all, just as long as Bush betrayed no hint of elitism or intellectualism. The sad thing (sad for the United States, not for Karl Rove) is that Rove had nailed the situation spot on. The result has been the last seven years.

Here’s the thing. If Americans won’t let themselves remember that all of our very best presidents were elitists, then there’s nothing in our democracy to keep us from electing one failure after another.

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