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Why do Democrats fall into the "Reverse Elitism" trap?

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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 12:12 AM
Original message
Why do Democrats fall into the "Reverse Elitism" trap?
Edited on Mon Apr-21-08 12:25 AM by EffieBlack
It is fascinating to see so many DUers mimicking the fake anti-elitism bleatings of the likes of Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan etc. While those named individuals are just purely hypocrites in their attacks on the so-called "elite," given their firm entrenchment in the rarified atmosphere of the wealthy, privileged, well-connected establishment.

However, what I see on DU is a bizarre form of "reverse elitism" or, to use a more basic term, "playa hating." In thread after thread, we see people attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for having money (notwithstanding the fact that they EARNED every dime of it) and, less often, for appearing or sounding too educated, too erudite, to big for their britches.

A common mantra among young people in the 1960s was "Never trust anyone over 30." Many of today's Democrats seem to have adopted the mantra "Never trust anyone with more money than I have."

Why is it that you assume that people with money - especially money that they've earned - are somehow suspect, and deserving of disdain, sarcasm and derision?

This attitude among some Democrats is, in my view, one of the reasons that we have trouble attracting independent voters. Like it or not, most people in this country aspire one day to be rich - or at least better off than they are right now. When we attack wealth, we spit on their aspirations.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being wealthy. The problem comes when wealth is treated as the end all and be all that supercedes our concern for the health and well-being of others and when the wealthy and their government protectors pull the ladder up from under them so others cannot have the same opportunities that they have had.

We need to focus our efforts on expanding economic opportunity for all people, not trashing those who have managed to obtain financial prosperity. Trashing Democrats because they have earned money is petty, mean-spirited and, ultimately, counterproductive.
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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 03:21 AM
Response to Original message
1. because most millionaires in this country do jack squat to earn it
They get their millions the old fashioned way; they inherit it.

I'll like the rich better when they actually earn their money.
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Berry Cool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:27 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. But if you're not paying attention to the difference between who earned it and who didn't
how will you ever know?
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 07:06 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Clinton and Obama didn't inherit their wealth
Edited on Mon Apr-21-08 07:45 AM by EffieBlack
So why are they being attacked?

The anti- wealth attacks we see here do not differentiate between earned and unearned wealth. In fact, people here are much harder on Clinton, Obama and Edwards - none of whom inherited wealth and all of whom started out with modest backgrounds - than they are on people who come from money.

That notwithstanding, making blanket judgments about people purely because of the circumstances they were born into without regard for what they have actually done with their lives and their money is just the kind of "reverse elitism" that I'm talking about. Being born wealthy is no more anyone's "fault" that should be held against them than being born poor is. As Kennedy (born rich), Roosevelt (born rich), Ronald Reagan (not born rich), Nixon (not born rich), etc. showed us, it's not what you were born with but what you do with it in your life.
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CK dexter Donating Member (99 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. Because that wealth comes from somewhere: the rest of us
Edited on Mon Apr-21-08 06:34 AM by CK dexter
The economy ain't magic. It doesn't generate wealth but distributes it (labor, not the market, produces it). Given high production (which is the norm), there's a limit to go around: more to the top = less to the bottom.

As for money that has been "earned"--the poor "earn" their money too. So it's not a question of whether it's earned or not, it's an issue of fair distribution of earned wealth.

So, yeah, basically. In an economy that depends on the unequal distribution of labor, being wealthy ought to be morally suspect.
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 07:11 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. So it's all a zero sum game for you?
Edited on Mon Apr-21-08 07:16 AM by EffieBlack
And every dime you make takes money away from someone else? Doesn't that mean that, unless you are living a bare subsistence life, YOU are just as "morally suspect?". Let me guess - your moral judgment of those with money draws the line somewhere above where you are. As I said, much of this argument is not about suspicion of people who make money, but suspicion of people who make more money than they do. The ultimate "reverse elitism."

And do you think that John Edwards was weong to be paid for "distributing wealth" from large corporations to the people they harmed? Are Obama and Clinton wrong for earning money from writing books - money that peiple willingly parted with by voluntarily purchasing those books? Are all authors who write books that people want to read and are willing to buy somehow capitalist tools?
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CK dexter Donating Member (99 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. The line is below me, and "morally suspect" is not "morally wrong"
I definitely include my own economic good fortune in the category of "morally suspect" wealth.

It doesn't mean, however, anyone who is above subsistence-level. It's anyone whose wealth is significant enough to require the existence of poverty. In fact, there's enough wealth in the world for everyone to live above subsistence level. I include myself (as a statistical middle income American), because some degree of my comfort does depend on the existence of poverty elsewhere in the world.

I very carefully chose the word "suspect," because I don't think wealth is always morally wrong. The wealthy can do a great deal of moral good with their wealth, which may outweigh the individual effect of their taking an unfair share of the wealth. In addition, most of us can do very little to fix the economic inequalities--our principle role is to actively support in word, deed, and donation, political parties and candidates who CAN make substantial progress on this matter. So, there's no reason for most of us to sacrifice or feel guilty about our good fortune.

But that doesn't change the fact that wealth requires both real and relative poverty as its precondition, and so we SHOULD treat it as morally suspect.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. It doesn't have to be a zero sum game...
...but that's the way the wealthy see it, and the way they rule us. There are ways to promote prosperity for all, but those don't pay off so much in the short run, so the wealthy ignore them, and do their best to distract us from them.

Wealth corrupts, generally. You can come up with exceptions all day long (and we all like to think that we would be the exception), I'm sure, but they are outnumbered by the capitalist pigs working for the return of feudalism.
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 06:38 AM
Response to Original message
4. Well put Effie! Chris Mathews, in particular, DEPLORES those of us in "the chattering classes"
because he is truly out of touch Beltway insider. Mathews mingles with The MOST powerful "political insiders" of both parties. His role for the power ELITE is to keep us "pajama hudeen" (his coined term of the net-roots) confused and at each other's throats. He performs his job well and is rewarded by invites to some of the most posh soirees within the D.C. beltway.

To put it simply, Tweety is truly an ELITE, top of the line - pompous ass.

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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 09:04 AM
Response to Original message
8. Who says Clinton and Obama "earned every dime of it"?
That sounds impossible to prove.

I think that there is something wrong with being wealthy, however. Wealth blinds us to the plight of the poor and the homeless, and it takes extraordinary wisdom and discipline to see past the great divide. We keep electing wealthy people to office and then feigning surprise when the middle and lower classes are left behind.
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