Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calling Names, Killing Mercutio

Here's a term I've heard a couple of times, and it threw me: "liberal elitist."  The liberal part I get: I'm a liberal, sorta.  I'm also a conservative, but less so.  So I guess I'm more or less moderate, with leanings one direction or the other...like most Americans.  There aren't that many people so polarized that they fit very neatly into one pigeonhole with nothing sticking out.

But then there's that "elitist" bit.  What the heck is that?  Is this a real label, or is it a character attack?

Inside my head, an elitist is someone who's taken some pains to achieve a higher standard, then takes some pains to make sure everyone knows both about the higher standard and the pains it took to get there.  He lords his achievement over all and sundry.

So "liberal elitist" goes...where?

Okay, looking it up gets me a little further.  "Liberal elite" speaks to the wealthiest liberals, Democrats with money.  Quake in your boots, Republicans.  Rich folks who back bussing for schools but send their kids to private academies.  But that isn't the whole answer, the phrase I'm hearing is "liberal elitist."

Further Googling took me here.  It's not the answer I was looking for, but it was funny.

Now take a look at a seething conservative viewpoint.

What I'm getting out of this is that a lot of political noise that's generated seems to be namecalling.  Really, people - is this the best you can do?  Your guy lost, and what's left is bitching endless complaining about all of the winner's character flaws?  Even the imagined ones?

If McCain had won the election, there would be similarly endless complaining about his character flaws, real and imagined.  There would be lots of debate as to whether he was eligible to even be President, due to his birth on foreign soil.

Bet you didn't know about that one, did you?  Yeah, it's a surprise.  Look him up on Conservapedia and it's nothing but sunshine and rainbows. 

Well, no rainbows.  Can't send the wrong message.  Wouldn't be prudent.  Look around though, and there's some indecision whether he was born on the post or not.  Was he or wasn't he?  Ultimately, does it matter?

But that doesn't get us to the crux of my question.  Viewed one way, "elitist" implies an individual with considerable knowledge and insight, one who should be listened to.  Another way, it's an individual who is of a select few.  Then there's the worst possible definition, the one that implies an individual is conceited, assuming of privilege, snooty.  Since that's the bad definition, that's the one conservatives are using when they fling it at liberals with higher educations, money, and power.  Never mind that there are also conservative elitists.

Donald Trump is filthy rich (sorta).  He cheerfully declares he can drop $600M on his own campaign if it needs it; does that not smack of elitism?

Sarah Palin describes herself as just another mom...who was also governor, had her own surreality show, and is the increasingly grating mouthpiece of the highly polarized right.  Does that not smack of elitism?  Well, in my mind it doesn't, not as much as cognitive dissonance.  But moving on!

I actually don't dislike John McCain.  Say what you will of his political stance, he's a tough dude.  Offered a chance to be released from his POW camp, he turned it down - no jumping the line for release.  I respect that sense of honor and duty.  I wouldn't not vote for him, but Obama talked a better game.  Was Obama's game better than McCain's, well, that's tough to say.  As Aslan said, no one is told what might have been.  The only way to find out would be for McCain to gain the Presidency, and we see how it shakes out.  But of course, preexisting conditions won't be the same, so we're back to Aslan's wisdom.

What I'm finding most from all this research is that I'm sorely displeased by the level of maturity represented by both sides of the political houses.  "A plague on both your houses!"  We, the American people, are Mercutio, caught in the middle of bitterly rancorous factions, with people I care for on both sides.

Mercutio was desperately trying to break up a fight between his good friend Romeo and his soon-to-be kinsman Tybalt.  The country is caught up by the increasingly incendiary distrust and dislike between the political parties of our government.  While it helps a bit to have the built in function of checks and balances, it also makes for difficult relationships.  Things get said that aren't easily forgotten, not even when mutual agreement is needed.  There doesn't need to be this low behavior, this ill will and short temper.  The namecalling is childish, the endless jockeying for dominance is counterproductive.  You're tearing our country apart.  It's beneath you.  You're supposed to be our best and brightest, our chosen leaders.

Our elite.

Deserve it.  Deserve it, or step aside.

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