Elite and Elitist - Not bad things, perhaps.
So when did “elite” become a bad word or a bad thing? Merriam-Webster defines “elite” as: the choice part : cream, or the best of a class. Is that so bad? I checked the dictionary definition of “elitist” but MW only had a definition of “elitism.” The best I could find in Dictionary.com was also a definition of “elitism”: 1. practice of or belief in rule by an elite.
consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.
It did not seem to me that “elite” was necessarily a bad thing. I would kind of like my President to be a member of at least one elite group -- not the wealthy who feel they deserve special treatment because they have most of the money in America -- but the educational elite, someone who demonstrated his/her desire to learn and to succeed academically; someone who busted their butt to get into good schools and then worked hard to excel there. What’s wrong with that? When did degrees from Columbia and Harvard (magna cum laude from the latter,by the way) become a sin? When did working to improve the lives of the poor and unemployed, and when did teaching Constitutional Law for twelve years at one of the nation’s top tier law schools (there’s that elite thing again) disqualify you from the Presidency because they were not “executive” positions?
On the other side, when did the qualifications to be a “real American” include graduating 5th from the bottom from a school to which you got a legacy appointment in the first place? When did a record of bouncing from college to college (four of them in six years) earn you the badge of being “one of us?” and make you qualified to be V.P.?
I want a smart person running this country, not one whose greatest high school accomplishment was that he “excelled in wrestling” - valuable talent I suppose if Putin ever challenges President McCain to a fight -- and whose Wikipedia page (written by his campaign, I am sure) notes that at Annapolis McCain worked hard at subjects he liked, did not do the same if he wasn’t interested, had trouble with authority (which might have gotten him into major trouble had not daddy been an Admiral) and was a lightweight boxer - which may help with President “Achmadinnerjacket” of Iran if negotiations over Iran’s “nu-kuler” (the way our current rocket scientist president mispronounces the word) arsenal get testy.
I am amazed when Republicans -- rich ones at that -- hang the elitist label on Barack Obama, the son of a woman who lived on food stamps who worked her way through college. I am flabbergasted when someone like Lady Rothschild, who I am sure demands special treatment at every restaurant, hotel, spa and exclusive resort only she and a few of “non-elitist” friends can afford, calls him an elitist.
Well, maybe Obama is an elitist. Maybe he thinks that America should be governed by the best of the best - the best and the brightest. The founding fathers, the folks McCain and Palin refer to all the time, were exactly that. They were, for the most part, the smartest, the best educated, and the hardest working men of their time. And, although they were the elite of their century, they founded a country on some pretty damn good ideals and concepts, wrote some pretty amazing documents and established a basis for a nation that has become a beacon for people all over the world. Not bad for a bunch of elitists.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.