The Elite Class in America: Explaining Trump and Setting the Agenda for Democratic Revival

Karl Marx is noted for the theory that capitalism breeds distinct social classes. Evidence came from his observation of 19th century England and Germany. Marx’ followers early on saw United States as an exception. They claimed lack of barriers to mobility militated against permanent classes in America. Constraining capitalism rather than overthrowing it became the objective. That approach informed Progressivism, the New Deal, and it remains in vogue today.

That said, we do have a semi-permanent class in America today––a ruling class of elites who are products of our university system and whose primary ideology is that they and not the people of this country know best. Today the elite control the federal government and our universities. Even Congress is discounted as we see in Barack Obama’s usurpation of powers that previously required Congressional approval.

While early social scientists were not elitists, their theories provided the backbone of today’s elitist ideology:

  • States and localities are too parochial (i.e., too much under the control of interest groups) to deal with important, national issues.
  • Policy implementation requires an entrenched civil service at the national level.
  • The market place inevitably fails to provide for the less privileged and less able and thus must be controlled by the federal government.

Today’s elites believe those who resist the policies promulgated by the federal government are social misfits––racists, bigots, religious zealots, and people trying to hold on to undeserved privilege.

The elite class has found a home in the Democratic Party. While claiming to be the party of inclusion, its policies favor those who have emerged from the chosen channels to claim their place as movers and shakers.

Symbolic of the gap between the elites and the rest of the country is the drive to legalize marijuana. While our nation’s inner cities are ravaged by the drug trade, which results in gang violence and thousands of lives lost to addiction, the elite want to be able to enjoy their pot parties. Visit the campuses of the top-ranked colleges and universities if you have any doubts. As a result, instead of stopping the traffic of heroin and other drugs at our borders, which could be done if made a priority, our legislators protect drug use by the elites and make a superficial effort to conduct the war on drugs.

The problems we face as a society today as a result of the existence of an elite class stem from an ideology/philosophy that conflicts with the principles upon which our country was founded. They justify their power as being deserved by merit, by electoral victories and the application of social science methodologies to address societal problems. But national electoral victories are won with the help of a media industry driven by the same elitist ideology. Then, when push comes to shove in making policy, social science practice and technological potential get set aside. Ideology wins out, which is why political appointees and not civil servants make the ultimate decisions in the federal government.

Donald Trump vs. the Elites

Those who rail against Donald Trump’s views see those who tell pollsters they plan to vote for him as part of the misfit class. In fact, however, the vast majority of his supporters are neither racists nor nutjobs, but people who recognize that their voices are not represented either in Washington or Hollywood. Rather than trying to protect their privileges, Trump supporters (as well as those who favor Carson, Cruz, and some of the other GOP candidates) lack the privileges enjoyed by members of the elite class. Trump supporters are not graduates of America’s elite colleges, they don’t hold high level positions in government or academia, they are not on the boards of huge corporations; nor do they earn six figure salaries at not-for-profit organizations or cultural institutions.

Trumpism represents a problem for the Republican Party because the Party’s leadership shares in the benefits of elitist power. They hold down positions where they earn high salaries, have a voice (every once in a while) on policy, and can avoid the worst of society’s detritus––urban slums and crime, rural poverty, and social malaise.

The past two national elections saw the GOP lose when they nominated moderate candidates who did not excite enough of the disaffected population to defeat the dream candidate. While nominating Trump or one of the other conservatives might energize the disaffected, it also might lead to the kind of defeat that happened in 1964 when the party’s leadership failed to pull out the stops for conservative Barry Goldwater. The sad part of Trumpism is that people accept slogans for policies and seem to want a savior to solve everything for them instead of becoming an ongoing part of the decision-making process.

Pundits say the GOP cannot win behind a conservative––however you want to define that––because they will inevitably lose the minority and female vote. They report the ethnic balance of the country is shifting towards minorities who at the moment see their futures and those of their children tied to the Democratic philosophy.

To win, the GOP must find a way to disabuse minority and female voters of the elitist implications of the Democratic Party’s philosophy. They must ask black Christians why they stick with the party that is hostile to Christianity; why blacks who live in depressed cities ruled by the Democrat Party continue to vote Democratic; why Hispanics who are in this country legally support a party that rewards illegal entry; and why women who chose a traditional role in the family are disparaged in the media?

Does Democracy Have A Future in America?

Other commentators have identified the existence of an elite class in America. One observer, Christopher Lasch, author of The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, which came out more than twenty years ago, asked whether democracy has a future. Odd question? Not at all. What Lasch is getting at is that holding elections does not signify the existence of a democratic culture––one in which an educated citizenry determines policy and elected officials represent the interests of those who elected them.

Today’s elite hold a view of democracy in direct conflict with that of our country’s founders. The Founders believed democratic habits of self-reliance, responsibility and initiative were necessary for the establishment of ‘self-governing communities’––not an all-powerful federal government that usurps power from localities, the states and even Congress.

If the Republican Party, independents, or a third party would compete with the elite ruling class, they will have to start at the grass roots level, offering opportunities to average citizens to participate in a process that is not dominated by people at the top. Political “reforms” like open primaries undercut the role of local leaders and should be opposed. Open primaries are another victory for elitism couched as a democratic reform.

The second component of a campaign to challenge the elite is to overcome the mainstream media’s elitist bias. Opponents of elitism need to do more than develop their own alternative media outlets. Those are necessary, but not sufficient. The mainstream needs to be challenged, not catered to. Some of this year’s candidates have been willing to take on the hostile questioning of media chosen moderators. The notion of impartial moderators is in itself a function of elitist ideology. Opposition candidates should only participate in debates where the format allows them to speak to the issues and where “moderators” represent their supporters. Even if the mainstream media fails to cover such debates, people interested in change will find refreshing a willingness to bypass the networks and will tune in.

Third, a campaign against elitism cannot be confined to election cycles. Political activism has to be a 365-day effort, including representation at government hearings, filing freedom of information requests, court challenges, and protest events. As the Tea Party demonstrated, an active opposition movement doesn’t require a national governing group or a ton of money. It does require, however, people who are willing to stand up and speak out. The leaders of tomorrow need to get engaged today without regard to the outcome of the 2016 election. Elitism has a firm grip on power in America. It will take years to re-democratize America.

The Washington Post’s Biased Narrative on Israel

If you read the opinion pages of the Washington Post, you’ll see an imbalance in the views expressed by their in-house as well as guest columnists on Israel. They are uniformly critical of the current government and continue to hammer away on a theme of the need for Israel to give up the territories of Judea and Samaria as well as part of Jerusalem to allow the formation of a Palestinian state. In doing so they are carrying water for the Palestinian Authority and its narrative of what’s going on in that part of the world.

But opinion pieces aside, not everyone recognizes how this bias influences news stories. My goal in this piece is to demonstrate that their news coverage rests on a narrative that is inherently biased against the Netanyahu government.

The piece I’m about to analyze appeared under the headline “Kerry warns of ‘chaos’ if Palestinian Authority collapses,” which appeared on Sunday December 6, 2015 on page A22 of the print edition.

The article, written by Karen DeYoung, reports on a talk John Kerry gave the day before warning Israel bad things are likely to happen if the Palestinian Authority (PA) collapses. Nowhere in the story, however, does DeYoung report the source of that possibility. In fact, she reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed to such a collapse. So why does Israel need to receive this warning? The danger of the PA’s collapse is something manufactured by the PA as a threat to convince world opinion to increase its pressure on Israel to withdraw its military presence in the territories the media calls the West Bank. Kerry’s warning is like telling a bully’s sister that bad things will happen to her if her brother keeps beating up other kids.

Instead of placing the blame where it belongs, DeYoung picks up another theme of the Palestinian’s narrative to explain the recent violence in which dozens have been killed or injured. Here, instead of blaming the PA for inciting violence against Israeli civilians, she states, “Clashes that began in early fall over a holy site in Jerusalem revered by both Muslims and Jews have ignited a wave of stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults…” Yes, but the clashes didn’t begin for no reason. They began because members of the Palestinian Authority, including its leader Mahmoud Abbas, incited them with false claims Israel was about to do something to change Muslims’ status on the Temple Mount.

Later in the piece, she writes “Israel . . . has expanded its military presence in Palestinian areas and has allowed the growth of Jewish settlements on territory originally intended to be part of a Palestinian state.” The problem here is the word “originally.” Let’s assume DeYoung is referring to the 1947 United Nations resolution that led to the formation of the state of Israel which included a map dividing the British Mandate for Palestine into Jewish and Arab enclaves. The problem with blaming Israel for not honoring that map is that the Arabs (who didn’t called themselves Palestinians until the 1960s) rejected the boundaries in 1947, and they have rejected them over and over again, most recently by Abbas in 2008. So, how can Israel be bound by a map created 68 years ago that the Arabs/Palestinians have never accepted?

I’ll add one final example showing how DeYoung followed the Palestinians’ narrative. She paraphrases Kerry at the end of her article saying, “increased Jewish settlement activity and the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank ‘are imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.’” But why are Palestinian homes being demolished? Not so that Jewish settlements can be expanded, which is implied. The homes that have been demolished belong to terrorists who have attacked Israeli civilians, soldiers, and police as part of a policy to try to deter individuals from engaging in terrorist acts. If Kerry lumped demolished homes with settlement activity together, DeYoung should have separated them out. They are apples and oranges.

The author of this story can attribute the positions I argue are wrong and biased to the Secretary of State, but that’s a cop out to use a 1960’s phrase. The role of a journalist when reporting on a news event is not only to report what took place or in this case what the speaker said, but also to either talk to other sources when the speaker’s statements are controversial or fly in the face of accepted knowledge or appear self-interested or biased. In this case DeYoung helps Kerry out by drawing from the Palestinian narrative.

I don’t mean to pick on DeYoung because she is not the only Post reporter who has drunk of the Palestinian/Kerry cool aid. It starts with the editorial board, the editorial page editors and flows down into the newsroom. It’s why if you read the Post, do so with the foreknowledge that you will not get unbiased reportage on stories about Israel and the Palestinians.

Footnote: The Post is not the only media organization that is biased on Israel. See “Reuters reports lie that Israel changes status quo on Temple Mount.