Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Commentary: Elections in America: Millionaires Accusing Each Other of Elitism

This country can't afford to have another election decided by the idea that a member of the ruling class is "genuine" and others are "elitist"

by Brad Reed
Go to AlterNet original
Millionaire lawyers, politicians and journalists are all savaging Barack Obama for being an elitist.

Obama's particular crime in this case was saying that Democrats have done a lousy job of dealing with the concerns of working-class Americans, thus allowing the Republicans to swoop in with their God-Guns-n-Gays brand of politics that scapegoats homosexuals, illegal immigrants and George Clooney as the prime culprits behind blue-collar woes. This is not a particularly new argument, and has been a popular theme in mainstream discourse ever since author Thomas Frank published his excellent book What's the Matter With Kansas? in 2004. Nevertheless, both the media and the rival candidates pounced on Obama's statements and accused him of making "outrageous San Francisco remarks" and of "offending small town America." Worst of all, Obama's words rendered him an "elitist" in the eyes of his critics, which in American political discourse is akin to being a child molester or a Frenchman.

But is Barack Obama really an elitist as his opponents claim? Well of course he is - he's running for president of the United States! He wouldn't have gotten this far in life if he'd spent the past 20 years driving a truck or moonlighting as a fry cook at Arby's. Like every other successful politician in the United States, Obama is a member of America's political ruling class, which means that like every other presidential candidate in recent memory, he is typically insulated from the lives of ordinary people. Does Obama really have any idea what it's like to live like a "Real American?" Of course he doesn't, and neither do John McCain and Hillary Clinton! Does any rational person out there believe that Obama, Clinton and McCain spend their free time away from the campaign trail hanging out at Jimmy Ray's Chicken'n'Beer Depot playing darts with the common folk?


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