Sunday, November 14, 2004

Who are the Real Elitists?

Over and over again we hear the term “liberal elite” or “Hollywood liberal,” which is immediately supposed to conjure up images of lattes, Volvos, long hair, and stuffy academics who disdain the “common people.” Although liberals are rightly associated with the Civil Rights Movement, equality for women, the 40-hour work week, putting an end to child labor, and elevating environmental issues to the forefront of our national consciousness, the term is now considered by most a bad word. This defamation of the word liberal represents one of the most effective linguistic slandering campaigns in modern history.

So let us put aside the fact that the only Hollywood star to become President was Ronald Reagan, who is revered like a god by today’s conservatives (they even want to put his head on Mount Rushmore as well as our national currency). Let’s also put aside the fact that the GOP’s biggest rising star is none other than Arnold, another product of grade B Hollywood (whose movies are full of all that gratuitous violence that is supposedly debasing society). While we’re at it let’s forget that the real economic elites of this country vastly favor Republicans. If you have any doubts check which companies stocks skyrocketed after Bush’s victory last week; the fossil fuel industry, investment bankers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance agencies; a huge of swath of the corporate jet-set crew who know they’re in for some more serious pork these next four years. Since we’re being so generous, let’s also put aside the fact that Bush and the top Republican leadership routinely appeal to the South and Middle America as the “heartland,” the place of “true American values,” which is a none too subtle way of characterizing the West and the Northeast as places that aren’t truly American (despite the fact that these are the areas responsible for the overwhelming majority of productivity and GDP growth, and produce most of what constitutes American popular culture).

What I want to focus on is even more basic. Those residing in the West and Northeast have no problem voting for people from the “red” states. When Clinton ran for president no one in New York or California ever said anything bad about his being from Arkansas, and neither did anyone have anything bad to say about Gore being from Tennessee. One of my favorite presidents, Jimmy Carter, beckons from Georgia and you can’t get much more Southern than an Evangelical peanut farmer, but I never once counted that against him.

In the aftermath of Kerry’s defeat we are now being told that Democrats and “liberals” must nominate someone from the “heartland” or else they don’t stand a chance of winning on the national stage. The contention is that people in the “red” states simply refuse to vote for someone from any regions associated with liberalism.

So now I ask you, who are the real elitists?

J.S.

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