While I have long realized that the “Democratic” Party is misnamed, how far its roots lie from the egalitarian traditions of the United States came into much sharper focus. Liberalism is — and was — a program designed by elitists for elitists. It never was for, or appreciative of, the little guy.
Although I have a fairly large vocabulary, Siegel uses a word with which I was not familiar. It is “clerisy.” According to the dictionary, this is a synonym for the literati. This is also the clique that Siegel identifies as having launched and kept liberalism afloat.
From its beginnings a century ago, modern American liberalism has been dedicated to promoting literary causes. Its chief proponents were self-styled intellectuals who deemed themselves superior to the common ruck. Convinced they were smarter, kinder and more sophisticated than ordinary persons, they could afford to look down on them.
But more than this, they had to persuade themselves that they were not really snobs. As a result, they styled themselves as knights errant on the mission to save humanity from its own defects. They, albeit highbrows, would lead the lowbrows into a brave new world of gentility and equality.
Of course, they did not really mean this. Utterly convinced of their own superiority, they were certain ordinary people could not govern themselves. These boobs could not tell the difference between a Kandinsky and a toad, and therefore, they could not be trusted to make important decisions.
No, the clerisy would have to make the decisions — even for the personal lives of those they were destined to govern. Persons of lesser ability would have to defer to their betters so that they could be saved from themselves. Indeed, if these fools had to be manipulated into complying, it was for their own good.
Isn’t this what Barack Obama and his merry band of pseudo-democrats are attempting to do? Don’t they habitually assure us that Obamacare will rescue us from the mean-spirited insurance companies? Aren’t they confident our nation’s hegemonic ambitions must be thwarted lest we corrupt the rest of the world?
And if we are not in favor of these things, they must persuade us to go along. Should this require lies, lies will be told. Should it entail misdirection, red herrings will be trotted out. Should the truth lead people to come to the wrong conclusions, it will be withheld from them.
Why not? Ordinary Americans are regarded as so dim that these forms of manipulation will slide by them. Obviously, young women can be persuaded that conservatives hate them by repetitively making unsubstantiated charges of a “war against women.” Clearly, the poor can be rallied to legislation that will make them poorer if offered a few small bribes.
Hence we witness the New York Times, the bastion of elite Liberalism, a newspaper that prides itself on providing “all the news that’s fit to print,” deciding not to cover the IRS scandal. Ordinary people surely cannot be trusted with knowledge of how Lois Lerner plotted to deny tax relief to conservative organizations; ergo memos that reveal this are omitted.
Then there is Harry Reid, who tells the masses that accusations Obamacare is hurting people are all lies. Or Nancy Pelosi, who opined that if we were to find out what Obamacare contained, Congress would first have to pass it —naturally assuming that average Americans would never read the bill.
As for the president himself, he believes that his rhetoric can always get him out of a bad scrape. Given the right honeyed words, and the appropriate cadences, voters can even be persuaded that Obamacare is working. Failing that, he can divert attention with lurid tales about why the climate-change sky is falling.
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.