The “Populist” Power Elites

Ed KilgoreEd Kilgore made a great catch this morning. Andrew Stiles at the National Review wrote, “The liberal media are obsessed with Texas senator Ted Cruz.” As Kilgore correctly points out, the mainstream media[1] may be somewhat interested in Cruz, but it is nothing compared to the simultaneous orgasms that those on the right are having over him. (Kilgore, of course, did not mention orgasms, simultaneous or lonely.)

National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote that Cruz will destroy liberals because he is an Ivy League educated elite like themselves. Kilgore responds:

Ah, how rich, Rich! Here’s a Princeton grad, a champion debater, a former Supreme Court clerk, a Hispanic, who thinks just like Sarah Palin! Try to make fun of him as an ignorant yahoo! Just try, liberals!

This schoolyard (or maybe Old School Tie) taunt is, I fear, at the heart of the paradox surrounding what some are bold to call “libertarian populism.” A heavily credentialed pol whose policies revolve around the defense of economic and cultural privilege roams around the country bellowing with rage at the liberals and RINOs whose “establishment” is frustrating the will of The People.

And then he mentions that it reminds him of What’s the Matter With Kansas, but he doesn’t quote the best part. So I thought I would:

Behold the political alignment that Kansas is pioneering for us all. The corporate world—for reasons having a great deal to do with its corporateness—blankets the nation with a cultural style designed to offend and to pretend-subvert: sassy teens in Skechers flout the Man; bigoted churchgoing moms don’t tolerate their daughters’ cool liberated friends; hipsters dressed in T-shirts reading “FCUK” snicker at the suits who just don’t get it. It’s meant to be offensive, and Kansas is duly offended. The state watches impotently as its culture, beamed in from the coasts, becomes coarser and more offensive by the year. Kansas aches for revenge. Kansas gloats when celebrities say stupid things; it cheers when movie stars go to jail. And when two female rock stars exchange a lascivious kiss on national TV, Kansas goes haywire. Kansas screams for the heads of the liberal elite. Kansas comes running to the polling place. And Kansas cuts those rock stars’ taxes.

That’s the funny thing about modern conservatives: they think they are populist. They think they vote for the little guy against the elites. But they only vote against the intellectual elites and the entertain elites. The actual power elites—the people who really keep the little man down—are only given more and more power. There is a reason that John Stuart Mill said, “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”


[1] Conservative definition of “liberal media”: any media that isn’t explicitly conservative.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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