And So the World Ends

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Well, clearly the world has ended. The scientists at CERN have fired up the LHC, and the catastrophic particles have collided.* Life as we know it has ended, and from now on our topsy-turvey existence will have no rhyme or reason.

How do I know?

I know because I agree with George Will.

In the September 8, 2008 issue of Newsweek, Mr. Will wrote an essay called for Heepism vs. Elitism for The Last Word column. In this piece, Mr. Will outlines the idea that the presidential candidates are now being expected to empathize with the populace in ways that were never considered in the early days of our country. A failure to do so is considered "elitism," and is a negative trait in today's campaigns.

But why? Why is elitism a negative trait?

If a candidate has not lived on the knife-edge of poverty, then there's a pretty good bet that they don't know what that feels like - the stress, the fear, the constant worrying about the future. But it doesn't mean the candidate can't make the working poor a priority, it doesn't mean they can't author legislation to assist people who need help or increase funding to education. Why does their lack of poverty make them less qualified to lead? If they were raised in a family that valued public service and empathy for the less fortunate, then a case can be made that they might be more effective.

Here's the part of Mr. Will's essay that spells it out for me:

"Charges of 'elitism' are hardy perennials, but surely Americans can accept two axioms. The first is: The central principle of republican government is representation, under which the people do not decide issues, they decide who shall decide. The second is: Elections decide not whether elites shall rule but which elites shall rule."

Just so. Since I live in a reality-based world, I have to admit that Mr. Will is correct. I also have to admit that having an "elite" govern is preferable. While I admire coal miners and bus drivers, and consider them honorable professions, I don't think people in those jobs are more qualified to lead the free world than constitutional law professors or honorable career politicians.

Romanticism is fine, but I want a leader who will get things done, who will move our country forward in a positive direction and fix the problems of the last eight years. And I think an "elite" is probably the person who can get that done. I want the best person for the job - the person with the best education, the best intellect, the best experience, the best ideas. And if they are considered "the best" in one or more of those criteria, are they not, by definition, "elite?"

So clearly, the world as we know it has ended. When I, a hippy liberal, agrees with George Will, a conservative of biblical proportion, that's all the proof I need.

"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"

It can only go downhill from here. Stupid LHC.


*Yes, I know they haven't started collision experiments. I'm engaging in hyperbole.

13 comments:

John the Scientist said...

There is also floating around the logical fallacy that in order to "understand" something, one must have to have experienced it.

On a trivial, visceral level, this is true. However, often the experience of something so skews the perspective of the observer that objective thought on the issue is no longer possible.


MADD's push for lowered blood alcohol limits is a good example. While I in now way sympathize with drunk drivers, lowering the BAL from 0.1 to 0.08 has had little appreciable affect on drunk driving deaths, although it has had an affect on arrests. Why? the majority of those who kill people are scofflaws who drive well above levels of 0.1, while those at 0.08 rarely cause traffic fatalities. Lowering the BAL to 0.05 would have little effect on the real bad actors. But those who think with their emotions over at MADD can not see this, or see it and ignore it because MADD has become both a religion and a path to secular power for them.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, there you go, confusing the issue with facts.

Get with the program, will you? How do you expect to blend in with the proles if you keep thinking?

Eric said...

Indeed, I never understood the "plain Joe" appeal of the current President--"He's just like me!" Good grief, I hope the President of the United States isn't like me at all! I can barely keep my checkbook balanced and I'm frequently forgetting things, and given a choice between drinking a beer while playing a videogame and mediating a West Bank agreement--spin up the XBox!

I'd really prefer a President who's better than I am, thanks. "Just like me" is a pretty obvious disqualifier. If you're not someone who can intellectually intimidate me, I really don't care how much fun you'd be to pal around with and drink beers with. Feel free to organize karaoke night or set up a roadtrip for the gang, but don't run for national office.

Great post, Janiece.

Carol Elaine said...

Jon Stewart said it best, "I want someone who's embarrassingly superior to me."

vince said...

Never let the facts sway you in the face of a higher truth

And I actually like George Will, although I often disagree with him. But then I'm a conservative on one subject, liberal on another, and middle-ground on a third.

Try and pigeonhole me, will ya pollsters? Bwahahahaha!

Janiece Murphy said...

Vince, I don't dislike ole George - I just disagree with him most of the time. Not surprising, given that we inhabit polar opposites of the ideological spectrum.

But as my Hot Mom's Texas friends say, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while."

Lance Weber said...

Carol Elaine -

Great minds think alike! I just pulled the link and was going to post it here too.

"This is a job where, if it goes well, they carve your heard into a fucking mountain!"

Jim Wright said...

"This is a job where, if it goes well, they carve your heard into a fucking mountain!"

Yeah, and if it doesn't you still get a library and million dollar lecture tour out of it. Wanna bet GWB 'writes' a book telling his side of the story, ala McNamara (only not as intelligent or literate).

If they were raised in a family that valued public service and empathy for the less fortunate, then a case can be made that they might be more effective.

Like, oh say, Teddy Roosevelt? Who in my opinion was one of, if not the, greatest leaders we've ever had.


Great post, Janiece.

It's like I said the other day, I want the smartest son of a bitch I can find running the country, not Cletus and his beer swilling buddy Cooter.

Tom said...

Janiece, clearly you have been misinformed. I have it on good authority that the world has not yet, as of this writing, been destroyed. Please check http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ for further information.

:)

Janiece Murphy said...

Tom, don't be obtuse.

I know the world has ended, because I beeeeliiieeeeve!

Do not interfere with my belief system with your so-called "facts."

Steve Buchheit said...

I guess it really depends on the definition of "elite."

Elite as SOCOM kind of elite, yeah, sure. That is that they draw from a wide spectrum with certain talents and abilities and forge them through training to become the elite.

Elite as in a class, never in life. That way leads to aristocracy, and you know, things like children holding the same office as their fathers (don't worry, I include Kennedys and Rockefellers as well as the Bushes).

Janiece Murphy said...

Steve, do you think a member of those families would be incapable of serving well simply by virtue of being born into that family?

Because while I have a strong aversion to aristocracy as you describe it, I think such generalizations are unfair.

Jim Wright said...

Turns out you're wrong the LHC has malfunctioned and it can't be good. At all.

We're all gonna die!