electoral elitism

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Sam Harris recognized Palin's lack of qualifications for VP in "Average Isn't Good Enough:"

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. [...] This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get.

He ruffled enough feathers to pen a follow-up piece to defend himself against 'sexist pig and liberal shill' accusations, and now he's drawing the ire of Newsweek's nattering nabobs with this article:

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin's lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. "They think they're better than you!" is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. "Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!" Yes, all too ordinary.

[...]

Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth--in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

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2 Comments

Hey Cog....been long time since I've posted a comment.

This elitist thing is a conundrum that's popped up all over the mostly conservative newspaper board here in central Florida. If you counter with a rational arugula, I mean, argument, then you are being further elitist.

I've now long held the view that those who continue to vote for the inept and the criminal should somehow be held accountable. I dunno how, I just want it. Robert Anton Wilson once proposed moving all the racists to Mississippi so that they could live together...

I don't know what the solution is to this so long as mediocrity and anti-intellectualism are perceived virtues.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on September 24, 2008 1:30 PM.

Limbaugh lies was the previous entry in this blog.

speaking of elitism... is the next entry in this blog.

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