Saturday, August 23, 2008

Elitism and the candidates

Elitism: The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources (from the FreeDictionary)

Mr. B, one of my fellow Post-Ralphaelites (yes, there is more than one of us) stopped by the house the other day and our conversation turned to the current political campaign. Said he, "I don't get why people consider Barack Obama an elitist. He came from a single parent family and put himself through college."

What makes someone an elitist, anyway?

Social status?

  • Barack Obama: a young man from a broken family (his father and mother split up when he was 2) who lived with his grandparents until he graduated from high school.

  • John Sidney McCain III: third generation navy, whose father and grandfather were 4-star U.S Navy admirals.

Net worth?
  • Barack Obama: $1.4 million (most of it from royalties on his writing)

  • John McCain: $40.3 million (some from royalties on his writing, some from salary/pensions, most of it from his rich second wife's beer distributorship)

Interestingly, of all this season's crop of candidates, Barack Obama had the lowest net worth by a large margin. Compare him to Mitt Romney ($202 million), often mentioned as a potential McCain running mate.


  • Barack Obama: graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He was the first Black editor of the Harvard Law Review.

  • John McCain: graduated from a private prep school then entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis where he was an indifferent student and by his own admission, a hard-drinking party animal. He graduated 894 out of 899.

Is Barack Obama's perceived intellect what makes him an elitist?

Because we've tried dumbass for the last eight years and it hasn't worked out so well.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

It's not the income, it's not the education, it's not the number of houses.
It's the arugula.

Dr Ralph said...

WS -- now I understand why Bush Sr. turned his nose up at broccoli!

Damn foreign vegetables.

Dan Brekke said...

Hell, the elitist thing is a blade that candidates trying to appeal to the "common folk" (or Volk, as the National Socialists liked to say in that quaint language of theirs) have tried to stick into more liberal candidates for years and years and years. Everyone's having 1968 flashbacks right now, and here's one that illustrates the point: Spiro Agnew. I think you're on the right track when you point to intellect: the anti-elitists don't want to decry money so much. After all, everyone hankers for that, right? But who can stand the smart guy walking around with his nose in the air thinking big thoughts and reading The New York Times while sipping his chardonnay and planning his vacation to Paris? (Everyone knows that plain folks drink PBR (or Lone Star), watch NASCAR and TV news, and for recreation head down to the fishing hole (maybe with the jet skis).