Will and Kate, the tea party, and ‘anti-elitism’

The barrage of coverage in our media of the engagement of Will and Kate, the future king and queen of England, is easy to explain. It’s the latest news event for our celebrity-drenched culture.

What I had a harder time understanding, before I lived in Europe, was the appeal of a monarchy within a democracy like Britain, or Spain, or the Netherlands, in the 21st century. Could any institution be more anachronistic? Why do some people still put up with having, even paying taxes to maintain, a king or queen?

The answer I finally settled on, after getting to know natives of those and other countries with royalty, transcends mere tradition. It goes something like this: We are theirs, but they are also ours.

The royal rush this past week — and the irony of American fascination with the heir to the British crown in this age of the tea party — got me to thinking about how that sentiment went missing in the relationship between American “commoners” and our own elites.

Ask people of any political persuasion what’s wrong with this country, and you repeatedly will hear some version of We are theirs, but they have spun out of our control.

You see it in many areas of American life: in anger at fat-cat CEOs and Wall Street bailouts, in frustration at the mainstream media and its biases, in contempt for Hollywood liberals as well as organized religion. It is clearest in relation to politics.

There is populism across the political spectrum; see the left’s constant assaults on “the rich.” But the most potent brand of people power today belongs to the tea party.

Tea-party populism is sometimes described as anti-elitism, even anti-intellectualism when the subject expands to include the cultural and academic elite. The labels are mistaken.

“Fairness” and equality of outcomes (as opposed to equality of opportunity), the great leveling of society by whittling away at the top, are not the tea partiers’ preoccupations.

They don’t resent people who are successful or intelligent. What they resent is those people who believe success or intelligence comes with the right to tell everyone else what to do. The tea partiers believe not only that the “elites” don’t necessarily know what is good for the rest of us but, worse, that they don’t even bother to ask.

There’s a difference between tea-party populism and the way it is depicted. But while the left and right argue about that, it’s becoming clear that vast caste in the middle, the independents, are buying what the tea party is selling — for now, and only up to a point.

We have seen the political pendulum set land-speed records as it swings from one party to the other and back again. Come January, the balance of power in the House of Representatives will have gone from Republicans +31, to Democrats +78, to Republicans +51, in a span of just six years.

The mantra of the independent voters pushing the pendulum back and forth seems to be: We can’t trust either party past the next election.

As long as the middle remains in that mind-set, the attraction of limited government will only get stronger. The challenge for the newly elected members of our political elite is to make good on their promises — and to go about that in an orderly, sober, well-explained fashion.

Do that, and the claims of rampant “anti-elitism” will become an anachronism, too.

146 comments Add your comment

scrappy

November 19th, 2010
7:20 pm

Didn’t the Libertarian Party lay claim to ideals of limited government, and neither party can be trusted, many many years before the Tea Party?

scrappy

November 19th, 2010
7:26 pm

“The tea partiers believe not only that the “elites” don’t necessarily know what is good for the rest of us but, worse, that they don’t even bother to ask.”

From my advantage point it seems more like the tea partiers believe they know what is best for themselves, and for the rest of us, without bothering to ask us either.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 19th, 2010
7:30 pm

I can explain the moderates in language anyone can understand: their brains are smaller than their egos.

Unlike our leftist friends, who know what they believe and why they believe it – after all, they are the mirror of conservatives – moderates have no idea what they believe. They drift through life, devoid of any consistent principles, unable to develop a rational and cogent view of the world.

However, their egos are not constrained by the lack of intelligence, and they believe they can adjudicate ever event in the world on a case by case basis, never realizing that 50% of their arbitrary adjudications lead to 50% of the next round of problems.

No More Progressives!

November 19th, 2010
8:38 pm

There will always be an England, Kyle.

From the first coronation of Egbert in 829 to today, the English (of which I am one) marshall on.

Hail Brittania!

joe

November 19th, 2010
8:43 pm

bristol dances like a virgin….

Rafe Hollister

November 19th, 2010
9:01 pm

Kyle: I believe that most in the Tea Party reject the arguments of wealth envy and entitlements pitched by the MSM and the left for one reason. We do not waste time and energy trying to bring down the wealthy, but expend our energy trying to be wealthy. The other side is so fixed on the myth that the odds are stacked against the common man, that there is no way we can succeed. They spend their time castigating the rich as people, who either cheated or were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. All the while, other people are slowly working their way up the economic ladder.

Rafe Hollister

November 19th, 2010
9:04 pm

Ragnar: I have never heard a better discription of the “moderate” voter than yours. I agree they have no core principals, everyday is different for them.

Mr_B

November 19th, 2010
9:06 pm

Ragnar: as an alternative explanation of the moderate mindset; there do exist those people who have been around long enough to realize that no one, not matter how convinced they are of their own infalliblity, is right all the time. It is they who are willing to listen to those with whom they disagree without having to try to shout them down or assuming that they are somehow evil because they don’t share their own convictions. They are, in a word, the intellegent ones. Unfortunately, they seem to be a dying breed.

Mr_B

November 19th, 2010
9:16 pm

Rafe; why do you believe that everyone on the left wants to “bring down the wealthy?” Where are the unwashed hordes advancing with pitchforks against Bel Aire and Grosse Point? Personally, I’ve got enough for right now; could use a little more, but we’re not missing any meals or sleeping in a refrigerator box. As the depression era song went, “I don’t want your millions, Mister” but it wouldn’t hurt if the 1 or 2% of the population footed a tiny fraction more of the burden of keeping the nation that made their wealth possible alive.

ND

November 19th, 2010
10:38 pm

“They don’t resent people who are successful or intelligent. What they resent is those people who believe success or intelligence comes with the right to tell everyone else what to do. ”

Well, in a representative democracy, you elect people who, in one way or another, tell everyone else what to do — whether that means paying more taxes or paying less, funding more social programs or fewer, allowing or disallowing abortion and gay marriage, etc. And as long as that is the way our government is set up, I would rather have successful and intelligent people making those decisions (regardless of political affiliation), as opposed to people who believe in witchcraft and exorcisms. Logic dictates that those who are successful and intelligent in their own lives are more likely to know how to make the government more successful and intelligent. Quite frankly, it would be much easier to take the Tea Party seriously if more of them were fixated on solving the country’s problems as opposed to going on wild goose chases for presidential birth certificates.

ND

November 19th, 2010
10:40 pm

And I realize not all, or even most, in the Tea Party movement fit that description, but when you choose people like Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin to represent your movement on a national scale, it doesn’t help your cause.

ed

November 19th, 2010
11:25 pm

jesus was a lousy tipper

ND

November 19th, 2010
11:28 pm

“I can explain the moderates in language anyone can understand: their brains are smaller than their egos.”

You are confusing the word “moderate” and the word “undecided”. Moderates are people who have fixed beliefs that just happen to be right of the crazy Democrats and left of the crazy Republicans. In other words, moderates are just people who believe that happy meal toys and gay marriage should both be legal.

Michael H. Smith

November 20th, 2010
12:50 am

We do indeed have many confused people. Some don’t seem to know the difference between a democracy and a republic, though, we are in fact a Representative Republic as our Constitution clearly declares: Every state shall have a “Republican form of government”. Left, middle, right or anything in between, while every individual has at least some core beliefs or principles for use as their guidance, only those with the smallest of minds overruled by the largest of possible egos dismiss the all important fact of the vast gray areas in life that can’t always be fit tiddly into black or white, wrong or right.

The Tea Party is simply a movement at the moment. No one single group or group of individuals form a leadership base for the entirety. Local movement members are thus on their own so to speak as to who they choose to back as a candidate. People like Palin, Bachmann or Dick Army speak largely for themselves many times and not for all who are within the Tea party movement when they venture off beyond common themes that are consistent throughout the movement per se’. The demand for smaller, howbeit, a more efficient effective government isn’t anything new and it certainly isn’t a patent pending product of the “Liberal”-tarians. A good number of people in this country are beginning to realize just have far the two present political parties in power have moved us and the country beyond and away from the bounds of our Constitution.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and the rest could see what has become of their grand experiment, the new order of the ages?

They would definitely join in the Tea Party at the very least. Most likely they would be pushing for a Constitutional convention to be held before they declared another revolution. No way they could accept the size, scope and spending of our current government. Franklin would no doubt rephrase his remarks respectively: We gave them a Republic and they have lost it.

arnold

November 20th, 2010
5:37 am

“in frustration at the mainstream media and its biases” – I had to pick this out. :-) It’s not the main stream media. It’s the biased cable news. You are too young to remember the main stream media.

itpdude

November 20th, 2010
6:02 am

It is rare to see a more self-serving and stupid commentary on moderates than above by the guy who takes his name from the most over-rated “novel” of the 20th century.

Here’s a good example of a moderate: Say some kids are playing football and two kids get into an argument about something. Arguments happen all the time and get worked out. But these two kids are immoderate and both go home crying because they aren’t willing to work through their differences.

The rest of the kids, who can somehow manage to work through their differences, continue playing football, while the two crybabies stand on their “principles” and go home and mope.

Some people have pragmatically arrived at some conclusions (smarter people generally don’t hold too dearly to their conclusions knowing evidence may emerge that modifies those conclusions) and keep an open mind to new ideas or modifications to old ideas.

Ragnar should join the flat-earthers. Now there are some people who have the courage of their convictions, boy.

marko

November 20th, 2010
6:02 am

Kyle, I haven’t kept up with current events as closely as I should have. Evidently somebody died and made you spokesman for the the tea party. From the polls I’ve run across, the the tea baggers are comprised mostly of the most devout Kool-Aid drinkers of the Republican party. Just like the GOP, they don’t seem to know what the hell they want. A few babble about low taxes and smaller government. Many more think that we’ve got to re-establish America as the Christian nation they claim the founders intended it to be. Figure out if you want to ban Social Security or gay marriage and get back to us later.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:11 am

Mr_B:: it wouldn’t hurt if the 1 or 2% of the population footed a tiny fraction more of the burden
————————

35% in federal taxes alone isn’t enough for you?

Greedy POS.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:17 am

ND: moderates are just people who believe that happy meal toys and gay marriage should both be legal.
——————

Such bravery. What do moderates believe about the war in Afghanistan and $1.5 trillion deficits?

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:21 am

Mr. Smith : You seem, as are many on the right end of the political spectrum, confused by the term “republic”
“a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president(2). (2)a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of governmentb (1). b (1)a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.” Nothing in that definition excludes the imput of the people, and here in the US we have a historic tradition of extending that imput to more and more of our residents.
The three founders you name would no doubt marvel at the thing they created, but I seriously doubt that they would begin tearing it down. I also believe that they would be able to engage in civil discourse with those with whom they disagree; a trait which we seem to have lost in this era.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:23 am

Barry, No it isn’t, when they make 95% of the money.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:31 am

@ Barry: “Greedy POS.”
Indeed, they do seem to be, don’t they?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:41 am

Yes, you do.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:44 am

Mr_B: No it isn’t, when they make 95% of the money.
——————

So you’re greedy AND uninformed?

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:45 am

Barry: Name-callin’ all ya got? No ideas?….

Didn’t think so.

How sad to be you.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:49 am

When someone (that would be you) demonstrates a lack of factual knowledge, it isn’t “name-calling” to say they are uninformed.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:50 am

Barry: lets put this into a parable so maybe you can get some kind of handle on the word “greed.”
Two kids walk into a candy store wit some change and a bag each. One kid picks up a couple of pieces of candy, walks to the counter, plucks down his half buck, thanks the owner and leaves.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:53 am

The other kid bring in a croaker sack which he proceeds to load up with most of the shop contents. He goes to the counter and pitches a fit cause the shopowner won’t let him leave for the same crummy half a buck.
Pick the greedy kid.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
6:55 am

Here’s a parable for you, Mr_B:

Mr_B wants the government to take someone else’s property and give it to Mr_B. Mr_B is a greedy POS.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:56 am

If I’m uninformed, prove it. Don’t claim I’m greedy or a POS just because I don’t kiss the asses of hedge fund managers and investment bankers.

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
6:56 am

Figures it was too tough for you.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:11 am

Mr_B
November 20th, 2010
6:23 am

they [the top 1 or 2%] make 95% of the money.
——————–

The top 5% (note that this is more than just the top 2%) only earns 34% of the money.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

Oopsies!

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:16 am

Lil Barry Bailout:
Your moniker belies your ignorance. Bush signed the bailout. But don’t let that keep you from using it as a club to beat a black president you hate.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:21 am

You think there’s only been one bailout? You probably shouldn’t be calling folks ignorant. Your Idiot Messiah has signed off on a few of his own, and he voted for TARP as a Senator.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:24 am

Oh, and it’s really weak to assume anyone who criticizes the Idiot Messiah is only doing so because he’s black.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:25 am

duck, did your teacher fix your CRCT paper for you?

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
7:28 am

Barry: now your getting better: a few more deep breaths should do it.

Source: William Domhoff

“If we break the data down further we will find that 93 percent of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 10 percent of the country.”

I wil concede that the 10% is greater than 1 or 2 percent. The principle remains that a small fraction of society takes out most of the goodies.

BTW.. I don’t want any of it. I’ve got enough for right now, thanks. And no, I’m not part of the mythical 47% that don’t pay any federal taxes.

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:29 am

What else is there to assume when your derogatory moniker only references our president, who did indeed, along with most republicans, vote for the bailout, which was pushed by the Bush administration and signed by Bush?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:38 am

Well, there’s the GM and Chrysler bailouts (started under Bush, drastically increased under the Idiot Messiah). There’s the bailout of the states, as part of the failed “stimulus”. Let’s not forget the bailouts for parasites who stopped paying their mortgages. The Idiot Messiah also bailed out Fannie Mae. Oops, let’s not forget his bailout of Freddie Mac.

Lil’ Barry Bailout it is!

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:39 am

Barry, let me guess: You are a smallish man that talks big and throws names around in order to compensate for your insecurity. That a black man with the intelligence and composure of Obama has risen to the top of the political heap, your world view is so compromised that you must denounce him as illegitimate in order to continue to function. So you eagerly join those who gladly use you to further their political goals.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:43 am

Was that too many facts at one time for you, duck?

Perhaps you can show us where I claimed the Idiot Messiah was “illegitimate”. Didn’t think so.

What I do think is that he’s either a serious America-hater or incompetent.

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:47 am

“Well, there’s the GM and Chrysler bailouts”

So you don’t think the US government should take actions that encourage the survival of some of the major remaining industries in America?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:47 am

The refudiation of November 2 was too much for you, eh?

Mr_B

November 20th, 2010
7:48 am

“Failed stimulus” really?

In this paper, we use the Moody’s Analytics model of the U.S. economy—adjusted to accommodate some recent financial-market policies—to simulate the macroeconomic effects of the government’s total policy response. We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge, and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0. For example, we estimate that, without the government’s response, GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs, and the nation would now be experiencing deflation.

Source Binder and Zandi; From that left-wing Socialist outfits Moody’s.

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:49 am

No, I think failed corporations should be allowed to go bankrupt. This frees up the capital and labor for more productive uses.

What other forms of corporate welfare do you support?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:50 am

Mr_B, remember when the administration promised that the $800 billion they were borrowing from China would keep the unemployment rate below 8%?

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:51 am

“What I do think is that he’s either a serious America-hater or incompetent.”

Why would Robert Gates, our republican Secretary of Defence work for him if either were true? Do you really think or do just swallow whatever Rush trickles your way?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:53 am

Mr_B, if these models are so accurate, why can’t they be used to avoid financial and economic meltdowns in the first place?

Lil' Barry Bailout

November 20th, 2010
7:54 am

Maybe Gate thought it was important to have at least one adult working for the Idiot Messiah.

duck feal

November 20th, 2010
7:56 am

“What other forms of corporate welfare do you support?”

Is it welfare if it’s a loan and the taxpayers stand to make a profit if the bailout succeeds, saving American industry and jobs?