The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Our Turn

For decades I was convinced that 'the best and the brightest'—the elites in politics, the media and government—were in the best position to lead our country. I do think that was the case in our early history, through World War II, and into the 1950s and early 1960s. But something happened to the elites after that—they misread our roll in the world, becoming embroiled in conflicts that had no easy resolution. Even worse, once embroiled in those conflicts, the elites forgot the lessons of WWII and fought tentatively, more concerned with proportionality than victory. As a consequence, the conflicts dragged on and bad things began to happen.

On the domestic front, government began to grow without bound, and the elites began to consolidate power and at the same time, that power began to corrupt. Instead of doing what was right for the country, they did what was right for the network of elite politicians, business people, and media who were "connected." The network rewarded those on the inside and gave lip service to the "middle class" and "those in poverty" while making decisions that hurt both constituencies.

The elites cared only about themselves and it began to show. Low-level dishonesty and corruption has been commonplace throughout our history, but it began to blossom into something far more virulent over the past 50 years. All of this culminated with the election of Barack Obama, a person who told us he was a man of the people when in reality, he was nothing more than an arrogant elitist, with all the baggage that label represents. His presidency made the elites' failures in domestic and foreign policy quite obvious, even to those who normally don't follow such things. That may be why an arrogant narcissist who suggested that we can "Make America Great Again" gained a significant following.

The arrogant narcissist's opponent was the exemplification of a dishonest, corrupt elitist.

Throughout the population, a growing number of people had had enough—enough blatant lies that insult the intelligence of the listener, enough obvious corruption that underlined the difference between the connected and the average citizen. Enough lawlessness, allowing different rules to apply for the elites. Enough media bias that has become a national embarrassment.

For some, at least, the election became not a choice between two bad candidates, but a way to express a giant F.U. to the elites in media, in politics and, yes, in business.

Selena Zito writes:
Somewhere off U.S. 62 between Sharon, Pa., and Masory, Ohio, a sign reads, "You had your chance, it's our turn now."

That homemade sign, located in the fault line of this election in the Mahoning Valley between Ohio and Pennsylvania, in all its simplicity found a way to capture the essence of this presidential cycle.

In fact, it offered more insight into the discord between the American electorate and the governing elite than any pundit has been able to explain, let alone comprehend.

In short, the biggest takeaway from this election no matter who wins is that we have witnessed the end of elitism.
I think Zeto's statement suggesting an "end" to elitism is naive, but I do think she's correct when she analyzes the discontent we see across the country:
The public no longer has faith in big banks or big companies or big government. People cannot trust the banks because they create sham accounts to meet sales targets, or trust technology companies because they make shoddy cell phone equipment that blows up in our hands only to be replaced with another shoddy phone that blows up in our hands.

And the governing class has failed us miserably, from wars in the Middle East that never end, to a healthcare bill that erodes our income to the politicization of the once trustworthy institutions of the Pentagon, NASA and the Justice Department.

To them, the system is genuinely rigged, and the divide between the Ivy League educated and the state or trade school educated, between the haves and the have-nots, has become so deep that there is no bridge long or sturdy enough to connect them.
With this election, no matter who wins, things will change. The elites will have been put on notice that their dishonesty, corruption and arrogance is now front and center.

I'm not sure it will make a difference, but on balance, even the simple recognition of the rigged game is a net positive for all of us.