Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Vacuous Accusation of Elitism

There is nothing more absurd in the American political system than the right wing’s tendency to call everyone other than themselves “elite” or “elitist.” This faux populism is nothing more than demagoguery, drawing on basic tribalism to separate “us” from “them” — which might make sense if it wasn’t being used by people who are clearly, by any sane definition, part of “them.” Here’s Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana and a potential presidential candidate, calling unions part of the “elite.”

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has called public unions “the privileged elite” during a speech in Ohio…

Considered a potential 2012 presidential contender, Daniels stressed he wasn’t making a stump speech. His comments about public employee unions got strong applause.

One of the most powerful men in the country, speaking to a group of Republican donors who probably paid thousands of dollars for a seat at the fundraiser, calls public employees unions the “privileged elite.” And is applauded for it. It’s almost as absurd as when Dan Quayle, the pampered Vice President from one of America’s wealthiest families, gave speeches about the “cultural elite” and the “media elite” — never mind that his family made their fortune owning newspapers.

Everyone is apparently an elite — except those who actually are.