I admit the idea of a class society has sounded appealing to me at one time or another. Imagine, if you will, being subjected to a battery of tests at a young age, after which you are separated, placed in a special group where your talents are honed to razor sharp efficiency. When you finally leave school and unleash your talents on the real world, you leave with the confidence that you are one of the few, the proud and the brave that can do your special task. You are respected by others because they also are the few, the proud, the brave for their special field, and each of them knows what it took to grind you into your particular niche. No one is held back by the unspecialized majority, and we are only limited by our intellect.
Although I must admit that I’ve never taken the time to explore that idea fully. I’ve checked out some of the secondary literature to Ayn Rand, and I fear if I actually take the time to read “Atlas Shrugged” one of my basic questions about this philosophy will remain unanswered. If smart people are being held back by the unwashed masses, and if that specialized intellect is truly what is necessary to realize a perfect world: why hasn’t it happened yet? If the world could really be run by intellect alone, we’d all be run by a cabal so secretive, so perfect, that even if we were to uncover that democracy was a lie we’d give a sigh of relief that the world was being run by these people and then carry on our merry way.
Still, the case for a council of appointed Philosopher kings mounts ever higher. In the United States, the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a repeal of some of the Gasoline taxes to reduce the financial burden on “Ordinary Americans”. This proposal, like the decision to revisit NAFTA, would do more harm than help in the end. My friend Erin in Chicago said that if Clinton pandered any harder she’ll need to get a set of Truck Nutz . Personally, I think her next promise will be beer in the water taps.
Stupid people voting for stupid politicians with stupid decisions sounds like a recipe for a country taking a window seat to hell. Anyone who offers an opinion or idea of any appreciable sense gets shouted down as “elitist”. Time for the cabal, I guess. So if we are going to have an appointed council of intellectuals, we have to convince all the little people to accept. There has to be a clear line between who is fit to lead, and who is not. The average man must be made proud of his lot in life, yet forgo any desire to change the status quo.
Hang on, isn’t that exactly what Hillary is trying to do with this gas tax holiday? All this pandering is serving to raise pride in being “the average man” but at the same time cementing her hold on power. The only problem is that it’s just not working.
Hillary’s opponent Barack Obama made a comment about a month back about low-income Pennsylvanians turning to “Guns and Religion” to placate their woes with a failing local economy. The media jumped on this comment, proclaiming that he was going to lose the nomination, he was so elitist, this is what got Democrats in trouble in the last election, etc. etc. Obama’s still leading by 200 delegates as of this posting, and I think I know why. Obama is not operating under the assumption that society is divided into intellectual haves and have-nots. He sounds as if he’s talking to people at his own level. It’s not the adverb-choked speech of the academic, nor is it the laid-back drawl of a Southern good ol’ boy. I’m pointing to the “Guns and Religion” incident not only because he emerged from that situation unscathed, but it was also a powerful and direct image of what Pennsylvanians are going through. Politicians today are so afraid of saying anything negative at the podium. Can you imagine McCain, Clinton or even Bush reciting a speech like JFK’s “The Goal of Sending a Man to the Moon”?He didn’t try to whitewash the fact that the enterprise was going to be expensive, difficult and dangerous. Sure it was awesome, but for a politician to talk at length of the disadvantages of his decision, to actually display a thought process, is unheard of these days.
A politician is just like any other professional. No one cares if their plumber is easy-going enough to have a beer with. We just want our toilets to work, and we want the process explained just enough so we know we aren’t being screwed over. In the end, the fight for political office at any level, in any democracy does not depend how you reach down to the average voter or teach them to fear your humongous brain. The key factor is clear enough communication to provide a conservative estimate, an exhaustive work order, and keep the crap out of the house.