Were you aware that Elizabeth Warren and her campaign are “elitist”? I am because Joe Biden told me. According to the 76-year-old front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who has never had a real job in his life for more than a few months (he first ran for office at the age of 27) and spent 36 years as a United States senator before becoming vice president, Warren is a typically snooty upper-middle-class white Ivy League liberal. “If you don’t agree with Elizabeth Warren, you must somehow be not a Democrat. You must somehow be corrupt. You must somehow not be as smart as she is.”
Those poor people. My heart really does go out to all the super PAC-funded, John Podesta-approved, focus-grouped pro-Wall Street anti-single-payer health care centrist Democrats, none of whom are wealthy or possess credentials from elite institutions or have any powerful and influential friends. There they are at the fringes of American public discourse, shut out by the mainstream media, their talking points dismissed out of hand, slandered, hated, shunned. The last thing they need is some smart-ass financial lawyer from Harvard, a school where no one agrees with them about anything, talking down to them from her lofty perch.
This line of attack from Biden is painfully silly. But it is also brilliant. Say what you want about centrist Democrats, but they know how the game works. They might have decided that they are no longer actually interested in winning general elections, but when it comes to keeping their progressive enemies in their own party at bay, they do a much better job than anyone, Donald Trump included. The approach is always the same. Call whatever incomprehensible Band-Aid policy you are proposing “common sense”; as soon as anyone tries to explain why it won’t work, shout him down. The very act of protesting vindicates your position that they are out-of-touch intellectuals more concerned with ivory tower abstractions than with getting things done.
I hate myself for typing all of that, but honesty compels me to admit that it is good politics. Joe Biden really has got a chance of beating out his left-wing rivals by arguing that they are “elites,” unlike old Joe, Uncle Joe, goofy, gaffe-prone, lovable Joe, who always speaks his mind and doesn’t drone on about boring 119-point plans. Joe doesn’t need plans. He just needs to win, and everything will be all right. Plans are for nerds.
All of this is missing the point, however, which is that in comparison with 99 percent of the American population, everyone in politics, from the lowliest freshman congressman and the most outré backbencher on up, is “elite.” What other job can you have for only four years and still get a pension and free health care for life? What other form of employment obliges others to address you by your old job title even when you have not held it for decades? Is there any other gig in the world that you can get with no meaningful qualifications that will entitle you to make a fortune for the remainder of your days after you have left it by talking to people still in the grind?
This is why, of all the dubious nonsense we put up with from these people, the folksy schtick is the most insulting. Don’t tell us that you are laid-back, plain-spoken men (and women) of the people who just want to do the right thing for the American people. Don’t bother telling us anything. You’re elites, and it’s rude to talk down to us, remember?
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