Note: This is an extremely long introduction to the next post. It is not required reading. Feel free to skip ahead.
I am an elitist.
Some people consider that a negative. I believe it is common sense. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in equality; I think everyone should have an equal opportunity in life, I believe the disadvantaged should get a hand to level the playing field, and I am against discrimination. When born into the world, every child should have the equal opportunity to become President of the United States when they grow up. Of course, while everyone should have the opportunity to rise as far as they can, not everyone is qualified for the top jobs. I do not want an “everyman” as President of the United States. The last thing I ask when deciding who to vote for is if I would like to have a beer with him or her. I want a President who makes me look stupid. I want a President who is not only smarter than me, but smarter than everyone I know. I don’t want to have a larger vocabulary than the Commander in Chief. I don’t want to watch the President admit ignorance on a subject while my respect for him or her grows because it proves he is just like all of us.
I am an elitist.
When we pick astronauts, we choose from a pool of the nations best; people not only with physical talents, but brilliant intellects. The overwhelming majority of us are not qualified to be United States astronauts.
In professional sports, only the miniscule top percent of athletes make it. It doesn’t matter how much someone trained and practiced, how much they sacrificed, how much they wanted it. If they don’t have the skills, they don’t make it
I don’t see a large public outcry against these facts. Am I missing the petitions to force the Dallas Cowboys to sign the tow truck driver from Austin to a multi-year contract as their back up QB? The insistence that NASA cut down the unemployment rates by hiring astronauts exclusively from people laid off during the recession? Of course not, because people accept elitism in these cases. They understand that the high stress, high risk duties of an astronaut require the best and brightest. And when watching sports, they do not want to watch Joe Lunchbox, they want to see athletes at the peak of physical perfection pushing themselves in competition every game.
Will someone explain to me why it is seen as “elitist” to want the best and the brightest to run the country? Why a former actor who paid attention to astrologers is considered a political saint by a large portion of the electorate? Why a failed businessman who owed everything to who his father was able to lose his way into the White House largely due to his status as an “everyman?” Why those who questioned his qualifications were derided as “ivory tower eggheads” and his opponents intelligence was seen as a detriment?
It is a sad fact of politics that actually being qualified is not one of the qualifications required to run for and win office. Aside from the requirements set forth in the Constitution, the only requirements are money and a way to get people to vote for you. The founding fathers plainly did not trust the majority to run the country by democracy; hence the system of government we have in this nation, as well as the protections set forth for the minority. I often wonder what type of government they would have settled on if they could have seen how far off the rails our representative democracy has gone.
You would think that positions that did not face the electorate, positions that are filled by appointment, would be occupied by the best and the brightest. After all, the person appointing them has the entire nation to draw from and does not have to choose a candidate with the charisma needed to win an election. Instead, all they have to face is a confirmation hearing. While it is true that Democrats will nominate Democrats while Republicans nominate Republicans, there is little reason to think they would nominate someone unqualified for the position. And since the candidate still must pass a confirmation hearing with the threat of filibuster, if not a hostile Congress, you would also assume the successful nominees would tend towards the center of the spectrum.
But then we look at the Supreme Court, filled with nine of the most powerful people in the United States, and we see Clarence Thomas. I think even a die hard member of the GOP would struggle attempting to argue that Mr. Thomas is one of the top 9 legal minds in the nation. Yet still he sits on the bench, and will continue to for the rest of his life.
I am an elitist.
I believe the best legal minds should sit on the bench. I believe the most intelligent people should lead us. When I look at Congress, I want to see the most intelligent, highly educated, experienced people the nation has to offer.
I think the founders felt the same way.
What we have become is a disgrace.