The big problem with the “elites” that conservatives and Trumpeteers keep demonizing is that they insist on acting and talking as if they are exactly as insolated and contemptuous of “the masses” as they are accused of being. Witness this headline on the Washington Post website, on the Wonkblog column:
Talk about walking into a haymaker! This headline went viral on the conservative media and social media, with such comments as, “Know your place, peasants!” and “Stand aside and pay attention to your betters!” As with many such incidents, the headline signals that some ethics alarms aren’t functioning in high places. How could this headline make it to the web without anyone seeing it and thinking, “Whoa! Hold it! That sure sounds like (another) call to authoritarian government, and this is the major paper in the Capital of what is supposed to be the cradle of liberty! We can print that, and if we think it, we have to be a lot more clear about what “some things” are.” What does it tell us that nobody had that thought at the Washington Post?
This is the realm of headlines, which, like internet memes and bumper stickers and Twitter posts, are not safe for expressing complex ideas, and should not be used by competent journalists to do so. Ultimately, in a representative democracy, the people do decide such things indirectly, by electing their representatives and punishing them with their votes if they don’t make decisions the public finds competent and beneficial. The Post web headline asserts an ugly and arrogant dichotomy between “the people” and what, their rulers? The intelligentsia? The aristocracy? The 1%? Journalists? Since trust in our institutions are at a dangerous low point, this is a mind-blowingly stupid thing to print, and plays directly into the hands of the anti-establishment hucksters like Trump and Bernie. Continue reading