Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Conservatives and Anti-Elitism

I read a great opinion piece in The Washington Examiner by Philip Klein on what elitism is and what it is not. What the media and left did with President Reagan was elitism. Reagan was constantly called stupid, just some dumb actor, and many other choice names before being elected president. All the work he did before being president was completely dismissed. Reagan spent decades studying policy. He also was the governor of the country's largest state for two terms. Reagan did his homework and paid his dues. One of the things about the beloved (by conservatives anyway) president was his charm and charisma. He could charm the leaves off trees if he really tried. Reagan was one of the reasons that I became a republican. When I was in high school Reagan was running for election. I had the great fortune of having a Civics teacher who truly loved politics and teaching. He is one of those teachers that I will remember for the rest of my life. When the school year started the election was getting into full swing. As such, a big part of our first semester grade was going to be based on the campaign. The class was divided up into Carter Camp and Reagan Camp. He also did things on the state and local levels as well. I was put on the Carter campaign staff which made my mother happy. That is when I realized I was a republican, which didn't make my mother happy.

I was too young at the time to understand the real damage that the mudslinging did to the candidates and their families. But, I did find a love for politics that has stayed with me to this day; obviously. Even though I was on the Carter team, I was quite happy when Reagan not only won, but won decisively. Then I went about my high school life and did not pay all that close attention to things until it was time for Reagan to run for re-election and I had my very first opportunity to vote. I still clearly remember that day. I made a friend of mine take a picture of me coming out of the voting booth (it had a curtain and everything) that I still have in a frame. I was so proud. Very few of my friends could be bothered to vote. But I am a first generation American and was raised to be a proud American. As such voting was not only a great privilege, but my duty as a responsible citizen. I got to vote for The Gipper. Good times, indeed.

But, I still didn't grasp what the media and left could do to a conservative candidate. I don't think I grasped that until maybe 10 years ago. Now I not only know it, I do my best to fight against it. Not an easy task. But, the point of this article is that how far are conservatives going to take this anti elitism?

One of the fair criticisms that the left can sling at The Tea Party was that we were absent during the Dubbya administration. Let's face it, Georgie increased the size and scope of government. Even with the republican congress, they spent money like drunken sailors. Conservatives and the people who today are part of the grassroots said little, actually next to nothing. Some of that may be due to treatment that Dubbya received from the left and the media. He was butchered in the press daily and did little to fight back. We laughed at his stumbles at the podium, which were sometimes quite funny.

But, oh how times have changed in the past three years. The Bushes are now the "dirty establishment" and the "party elites" that the grassroots goes after when they dare say anything about a candidate that the grassroots is promoting. Klein specifically talks about Palin, O'Donnell, and Bachmann. But I think we would need to add Sharon Angle and Joe Miller to the list as well. One can't make critical statements or seriously question the decisions of these women and Joe without having names slung at them. Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer can attest to the truth of this. Rove was decimated when he had the audacity to question Christine O'Donnell. Sorry to tell the grassroots, but there are legitimate questions of her. Questioning a candidate shouldn't be made out to be an unpardonable sin. Believe me, I heard plenty when I questioned Christine O'Donnell. I had people tell me I was a bad conservative and a few readers have never commented on my blog again, I supposed they stopped reading. But wanting to know how she lived on less than $6K a year is a question I wanted answered. I wanted to know why she kept saying her house wasn't foreclosed on when it was. Her boyfriend bought it two days before the auction. That is not a short sale, two days before an auction it is banked owned. Questioning if Angle had the ability to run a serious campaign against the most powerful senator was a legitimate question. Not a sinful one. Maybe if had been asked seriously before the primary dingy Harry would be gone.

Are we to go along to get along? I don't think that is very good strategy. Matter of fact, I think that strategy not only stinks, I think it stinks to high heaven. I want to question our leaders, all of our leaders. I don't want to be some legion of blind followers. Isn't this the exact thing we make fun of with the Obamanuts? I would say it is. I know it is for me. The cult of personality that went into the Obama campaign scared the crap out of me three years ago. I think it scared the crap out of most conservatives/republicans. People were not looking at his policies, they were not paying attention to what he was really saying. How many times in the past three years have you heard people say, I didn't think he would do these type of things. Then you are an idiot. It is was all there for the world to see. In black and white as a matter of fact. Read his books. All the social justice/quasi-socialist views are in there. He didn't lie about what he wanted to do. People convinced themselves he was a centrist. Sadly, the ones who did pay attention are paying the price for those getting caught up in the "cult" of personality who did not have the qualifications for the job.

Krauthammer has been ripped apart for questioning if Sarah Palin has done the due diligence to sit in the big chair. Sarah is compared to Reagan constantly. But the only real thing that they have in common is the press ripping them apart. I am not talking about ideals or beliefs here, just simply preparation. When Ronnie took the oath of office he had been preparing for close to two decades.

I personally have no problem with the fact that Palin quit as governor. I understand the financial strain it put on her and her family. Many people don't realize that she was stuck with all kinds of legal bills due to those charges. Most states don't make the officials pay them the way Alaska does. (I believe that this law has no changed since she left office). She did what she believed to be right for her family at the time. But, that doesn't mean that other people will not. Especially when they don't understand the financial reasons why.

This new critique has reached its apex through the canonization of Sarah Palin by her fervent defenders. No doubt, Palin has been at the receiving end of a barrage of unfair attacks ever since she burst onto the national scene. But she's also been the subject of fair-minded criticism.

Yet even fellow conservatives who correctly note that quitting as governor of Alaska and starring in a reality show would not boost Palin's chances as a presidential candidate have been assailed by her blind defenders as "elites," and grouped with those on the Left who engage in vitriolic attacks on her character.

The theme will get a new airing next month with the release of the hagiographic Palin documentary, "The Undefeated." The film spends nearly two hours portraying Palin as heroic crusader who is constantly attacked by establishment liberals -- and conservatives -- because they fear her

I don't think the left fears her. I think they loathe her. But I am in the minority. Especially with the "Palinista's". They hold onto the meme that Palin is so feared because she is the only one to beat Obama. Maybe she can beat Obama, but maybe she can't. Maybe the press who set out to destroy her did such a good job that she can't repair the damage among the independents. That is a legitimate question. Can she overcome the damage? Her unfavorable rating is very high. Her favorables among independents is very low. Questioning if she can overcome those numbers is not a sin. If defeating Obama is the goal that question MUST be asked.

It also must be asked of Bachmann. Can she overcome the false character that the left has painted of her? She is also loathed by the left. She was the one of the members of congress that was most targeted for defeat by former Speaker Nanny Pelosi. It didn't work, but it wasn't for the lack of trying. Asking serious questions about conservatives is a healthy and necessary thing. We need to really look at the people we are putting in positions of power in this country. We need to stand up to every politician who is leading this country astray, regardless of party.

It's important to draw a distinction between superficial elitism that doesn't actually matter, and dangerous elitism that threatens our liberties.

I couldn't agree more. Read the entire article. You may get enraged, but I think you will realize that what he is saying is true.

We will soon celebrate the anniversary of our nation's founding, so we would do well to recall that our founders were "elites." They came from cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York and massive estates in Virginia. They attended vaunted academic institutions of the day and in many respects had European cultural tastes.

Yet their cultural elitism was not a threat to society, which they did not seek to control. Instead, they set up a government of limited and enumerated powers that left most decisions in the hands of states and the people themselves.

Sadly, those who followed our founders sought ever more power for the federal government, and over the decades the judicial branch was happy to oblige. This is the sort of elitism that warrants conservatives' scorn.


Opus #6 said...

Carter/Reagan made me a conservative as well. And taught me to ignore the media belittling conservative candidates.

hometown guy said...

Well said. And not all the media are liberal, but most media today are a pale imitation of what they should be, regardless of political leaning or lack thereof.

Also, not every candidate (on both sides) who is belittled by the media is completely undeserving of such treatment.

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