Arnold Kling  

Tea and Sympathy

The View from Outside... Blog on Causes of the Crisis...

A conservative photo-journalist refers to yesterday's rally in Washington as The Conservative Woodstock.

I believe that this day could be referred to in the not too distant future as the day that changed America. This was the day the great silent conservative majority finally found its voice.

I'm to put my comments below the fold, because this is an "off-mission" post. If the point of my blogging is to educate people about economics and political economy, it is hard to see how this post relates, although it might.

First of all, I don't see this as the dawn of a new day. More like a last stand. But I'll come back to that.

I'm probably one of the few people who was on the Mall for a big anti-Vietnam War rally and also for some of this event. However, for this one, I came down on my bike, got there around noon, and left after about 15 minutes. I didn't see the huge crowd that ultimately assembled. When I passed the Reflecting Pool, there were more tourists than protesters, and I had to get almost to the lawn on the Capitol before I saw a big concentration of protesters.

People were mellow and friendly, like at the giant anti-Vietnam rally. And as with that rally, they tended to mill around, ignore the speakers, and chat among themselves. My joke is that I was waiting for Pete Seeger to come out and sing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" about the deficits. ("We're waist deep in the Big Muddy. But the Big Fool says to push on.)

At an anti-war rally, a thrill would run through the crowd if a charismatic politician came to speak. Here, that was not going to happen. Is that because there are no charismatic conservative politicians any more, or because conservatives aren't so much into charisma?

Do they fit the stereotype of being white, small-town, uneducated racists? Not much racism, but otherwise I would say they fit the stereotype enough to make me skeptical that this is an important political movement. This country is becoming more urban, less white, and more educated. At most, this movement could turn out to be the right-wing equivalent of MoveOn--a mailing list to be tapped when somebody wants to try to mobilize activists. But it may not even achieve that before it splinters and shrivels into insignificance.

I think the long-term significance of what is going on, both at the progressive end and at the Tea Party end of the political spectrum, is an open rupture. In the 1960's, a Hubert Humphrey or Robert Kennedy could connect with uneducated white voters. The idea of blowing them off was unthinkable, if only because they were such a large majority of the voting population at the time.

Now, the elitism of President Obama and his supporters has reached in-your-face levels. They have utter contempt for the Tea Party-ers, and the Tea-Party-ers know it.

I wouldn't want the Tea Party-ers at the faculty picnic, either. But my sense of class solidarity with Obama and other educated progressives does not make me want to see them exercise power. If anything, being a member of the educated elite and knowing knowing them as well as I do makes me share the Tea Party-ers' fears.

I come back to my view that this is white, small-town America making its last stand. However, I think, also, that the progressive elite is making a last stand. My guess is that doubts are mounting among many independent voters about whether they want such a highly-charged politics. I am sticking with my bet that the Democrats will hold onto their House and Senate majorities as well as the Presidency through the elections of 2016, but relative to six months ago I feel that I am depending more on Republican incompetence than overall political trends to win that bet.

One could argue that this country is on the verge of a crisis of legitimacy. The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate, and vice-versa. I see the chances of both sides losing as much greater than the chance of either force winning.

Comments and Sharing

TRACKBACKS (1 to date)
TrackBack URL:
The author at Crunchy Con in a related article titled Tea Parties: Old America's last stand writes:
    The libertarian economics writer Arnold Kling gets it about right on the Tea Party phenomenon, I think. Excerpt: I think the long-term significance of what is going on, both at the progressive end and at the Tea Party end of... [Tracked on September 15, 2009 7:35 AM]
COMMENTS (81 to date)
PJens writes:

Interesting comments. I think that as long as us small-town uneducated Americans continue to produce most of the food for the world, we will still hold political significance. Not all of us can attend DC rallys because we are too busy working.

Peter Twieg writes:

The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate

Starting? I'd say that this dismissal occurred a fair while back, and what's happening now is that the progressive elite is becoming less veiled in its contempt.

Which isn't a wholly unjustified contempt, mind you, but it tends to manifest in various negative ways, such as with the increasing domain of policy disputes within which the race card ends up being played. I'm pretty cynical about these things (though perhaps no more cynical than the average commenter here), but seeing anxiety of race riots occurring because of healthcare reform opposition struck me as especially inane. It seems like there's very little constructive dialogue between the various poles of the political spectrum(s) nowadays.

patrick writes:

PJens writes:
Interesting comments. I think that as long as us small-town uneducated Americans continue to produce most of the food for the world, we will still hold political significance. Not all of us can attend DC rallys because we are too busy working.

Please don't take this the wrong way..many of my relatives and friends live in small-town America. And many of them work quite hard.

That said, my "progressive urbran" friends work on average about 60-70 hours per week. Some work closer to 90 hours a week. In my experience most of them are far busier working than these blowhard tea-party folk.

Max writes:

Well, Mr. Kling, you sound a bit elitist in this post and dare I say it 'negative' to some people. Perhaps you really enjoy a party with progressive elitists more than with those "uneducated" tea party-ers.

I, for my part, am not sure about this. And I tend to be around elitists and higher ed people all the time. Both kind of people can show a stubborn capacity for pre-fab ideas that shall not be discussed. The average educated person often has just a lot more words to describe it and more often than not can give it a more nuanced form.

However, I don't see elitism as the solution to any problem, not any more. When I was a teenager, I believed in my hubris that only the right kind of people can solve all our problems. Now, I am no longer so innocent and dare I say naive. However, I think many people still cling on to this notion and thus education doesn't solve this issue.

So, perhaps I am reading your post the wrong way, but it is way too negative for me, especially, towards small-town folks. When I watched leftists protests (about global warming, socialism, anti-bush whatever), I have to say that though there are not many small-towners, they are not better educated or more nuanced in their criticism....

AHRisto writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Mr. Kling,
What do you mean by "both sides losing"?

Matt Huggins writes:

I'm impressed with your ability to assess the intelligence of hundreds of thousands of people you've never met, even if you did pass by a few of them during a 15 minute bike ride. You would appear, from this description, to have the makings of a true bigot.

I believe you will find in the months to come that there's a significant different between (a) those in the center and to its left who looked upon MoveOn and its ilk as alien but useful for the sake of political change and (b) those in the center and to the right who observe the Tea Party phenomenon and say "I am one of them."

Odd how the talk of the grass roots advantage that led to electoral success for the Dems in 2008 has dwindled. We hear instead of the Dems' smarts and urban sophistication. Given the sampling of those smarts in action since January, I am not sure how much more the Republic can bear.

You will find in the Tea Party movement a strong swell of dissatisfaction with Republican politicians who grew comfortable with the confiscatory ways of Washington, D.C. They're not unaware of the breach of faith that landed the Republicans in the wilderness in the first place. Perhaps there's time yet for candidates to emerge. I haven't taken the time to review the archives, but I suspect you'll find the lay of the land in 2008 proved quite different from what the pundits had mapped out during the first year of Bush's 2nd term.

silvermine writes:

Yea, sorry. I'm not sure if I'm "elite" enough, but I'm certainly educated. And quite, quite smart -- not to brag, just to make a point.

I'd rather be with the Tea Partiers then elitist progressives any day. I don't think the "elite" are quite as smart, interesting, or special as they think they are. Most of them regurgitate more than they think.

I went to college in Texas, but I live in silicon valley. I know both groups. I know where I feel more comfortable -- it's not with elitists, honestly. Too much GroupThink.

Hubert Horan writes:

Sorry, but your post simply wasn’t coherent. Like the demonstrators, there was frustration and concern and emotion, but not much clear, critical thinking

Your comments about the demonstrators made no sense because you weren’t able to articulate who you thought they were or what they stood for. Your attempt to draw a parallel with “progressive elites” wasn’t supported by any evidence of parallel behavior (i.e. crowds brought out by populist media stars, perceived victimization at the hands of higher status oppressors).

If you want to analyze things through the prism of your personal dislike of said “progressive elites” it would be more useful to start by explaining who these villains are, exactly how they harm the greater polity, and how these demonstrators do (or do not) fit into a scheme to counter them. I’m guessing that there’s only a superficial overlap between the way you’d define the “progressive elite” problem and the way the average tea-bagger views the problem. Who are the leaders/symbols of the “progressive elites” that you think are burning themselves out in parallel to the tea baggers? Paul Krugman? Barney Frank? Sonia Sotomayor? Matt Yglesias? Jane Fonda? I’ve always associated “powerful elites” with the wealthy, leaders of large corporations, and those with strong influence over political decisions affecting the economy, none of whom could be described as “progressive” (as that term is commonly used in these parts of the blosophere). Perhaps the tea-baggers have some serious grievances against that crowd. But you seem to be arguing that their focus ought to be on the “in-your-face elitism” of Barack Obama and his friends.

Having spent my life with these people, I’m not any more comfortable with them being in power than you are. But this is because they are human beings, and human beings in proximity to wealth and power tend to behave in certain ways. Hate to break it to you, but there aren’t any demographic groups, in small towns or elsewhere, that are powerful repositories of Capra-like, “we only care about the greater good of our fellow countrymen” republican virtues. The extremely anti-progressive folks that were walking the corridors of power during the last Administration seemed totally focused on helping their friends amass even more wealth and power, and totally uninterested in the welfare of middle-class small-town America. Where were the teabaggers then?

Green_Eyeshade writes:

I, like Kling, am skeptical of the ability of the average citizen to articulate a coherent position on most political matters. The events of yesterday only increase my skepticism.

However, Kling has gone to far here. Calling these protesters "white, small-town, uneducated racists" is demeaning and ignorant. While he partially takes back the racist label, the tinge remains. This is ironic given Kling's problems in the past with similar types of silly accusations.

I like a fair number of these protesters, and count among them my friends, family and relatives. I have gained far more knowledge and practical advice from them than any elitist or technocrat will ever be able to impart.

Peter Twieg writes:

Are people here seriously disputing Kling's characterization of the protesters, or are they just getting huffy because it can be perceived of as being negative and/or dismissive? Even if being uneducated and rural isn't a bad thing, drawing almost exclusively from this demographic can't fuel a real electoral shift.

In any case, I'm pretty sure no one's going to dispute that they were disproportionately white. As for uneducated and small-towners, well... why not offer evidence of Kling's being unreasonable on these matters?

Green_Eyeshade writes:

All voters, myself included, are extremely ignorant about most political matters. Kling has taken this a step further w/o providing any evidence for his demeaning assertions.

The onus is on Kling and Twieg to demonstrate that these people are uneducated, small town racists in some statistically relevant sense. Why do I have to do all of the heavy lifting?

Yancey Ward writes:

The movement, and I think it completely fair to call it a movement at this point in time, lacks leadership. There is room for someone/s to step in and provide this leadership. Once this happens, and it is sure to occur, then it will gain coherence and size quite rapidly. These people are watching a government in meltdown financially, and they fear with good reason, that the people in power, now and last year, are not only incompetent, but agressively and corruptly so.

Dan Clementi writes:

Arnold, like you, I doubt that this is the dawn of a new day. But I'm with Green_Eyeshade, Matt, and Hubert here regarding this post.

Just because the crowd wasn't composed of wonkish academics who would be welcome at your "faculty picnic" doesn't automatically consign them to the fringe. I was there long enough to see a crowd composed mostly of working people who are driven by their love of liberty. The lack of sophistication is more than compensated by a kind of stubborn morality that instructs their thinking.

No charismatic speakers? Well, I guess you've got me there. But haven't we had enough of the damage done by charismatic politicians?

If the Americans in this crowd are now on the fringe, liberty is in much deeper trouble than we know.

Robert writes:

Arnold, I hope the somewhat negative responses to this very interesting post don't discourage you from being honest or writing about this topic in the future.

That said, I don't think your suggestion that most/all liberals think 09/12ers are racists is at all true.

Robert writes:

I don't think the crowd was drawn there by their love of liberty. I think they were drawn there by scare tactics and misinformation from an idiot newscaster, Glenn Beck.

As anecdotal evidence, how about this?

Norman writes:

Despite the ongoing commentary involving misreadings of the two sentences you wrote that included the word 'stereotype,' I would love to see a follow up post clarifying what you see as a possible outcome in which "both sides lose." Are we talking about armed conflict and secessionism here? Rising viability of a third party? What exactly?

Justin P writes:

Very interesting. As much as I don't want to share in your divisiveness Dr. Kling, I think I must. I have to dismiss you post as just simply biased.
Your part of the ivory tower elite, you say so yourself. While you might fear some of the groupthink in the elite circles, I'd wager, your more afraid of losing that elite status than you might realize.

It's really not difficult to see how the elites would be skeptical of any group composed of the "uneducated" masses. It's all about incentives. The Progressives fear losing power and do their damnedest to discredit the masses. They want to keep power centralized, exactly what the academic elites want. They want knowledge centralized.

What I find interesting is how the elites get it wrong more often than not, especially in economics. I dare say if economics is about human action, one of the reasons academic economist can't come up with a viable macro theory is because they can't put themselves in the shoes of the masses that make up 99% of all economic activity. Once in the Ivory Tower you can't go back to cleaning the stables, that's the opportunity cost, and vise versa.

Randy writes:

A last stand... perhaps. I don't see how these protesters have a snowball's chance in hell of "winning" anything in the near future, but then again, disrespect is an important dynamic. When people lose respect for a political class they first stop supporting, and then they start ignoring. Ultimately, the source of power is respect, and respect, once lost, is never regained.

Ted Craig writes:

I completely agree with the last part of your post. The biggest overlooked issue of the last few years is a growing conflict between post-industrial and industrial societies. You see it played out in small towns where the educated middle class have re-located themselves to pursue knowledge work via the Internet and then become aghast when the locals welcome industry back to their towns. You saw glimpses of it in the uproar over Palin last year. It will become a bigger issue in future elections, I believe.
And before the jumping begins, don't take the one remark as an endorsement of the former Alaska governor, merely an observation that she represented a larger issue.

Hubert Horan writes:

What exactly is the issue behind this "movement"? That's the question Arnold's original post and most other analysts haven't addressed.

Will we see a semi-coherent set of ideas emerge that can serve as the basis for political group cohesion, an action agenda, coalition building etc? Or will it remain an exercise in venting tribal resentments? Is this a legitimate bottom-up expression of (somewhat) widely held views that will eventually find leaders to articulate and represent them, or is this largely the artificial creation of well-financed media/political elites (Palin, Beck, Murdoch etc) whose agenda might be rather different?

These are factual, empirical questions. But on the one hand we have the wishful thinking of people who don't like the party in power, projecting their own ideals and visions onto these demonstrators, and on the other hand you have people who like the party in power hastily dismissing the ability of the demonstrators to ever achieve political legitimacy. That's not analysis.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

Arnold's closing para is a strong statement.

Elite contempt for rural white and conservative America has grown in proportion to their reliance on wealth confiscated from conservatives to finance their unhinged planet-saving schemes. That elites despise those on whom they feed and who they claim to rule should not be surprising.

The naked contempt displayed by Democrats and hardly less so by most Republicans leaves middle America nowhere to go. The Tea-Party movement is an outlet for the total lack of representation for Americans who just want to be left alone.

I agree strongly with Arnold that this is conservative America's "last stand". But Republicans will move slightly, and temporarily, and cynically to the right, before moving back to their comfortable tax-cut socialism-on-the-cheap platform. And that will be that.

In my view, this feeling of mutual illegitimacy is helping to make secession a slight possibility. This is an interesting variant of Kling's "Exit".

Kelli writes:

I don't wish to sound harsh, but I am with the commenters who say this post is more than a tad contradictory. You make it sound like the protesters are all yokels chewing on a stalk of wheat. A friend of mine told me (disapprovingly--being a state bureaucrat and Obama supporter herself) that her Radiologist brother attended with his soon to be father in law from rural Montana. Watch for interesting cross-class alliances to be formed in this group. Watch for Ron Paul and other libertarians to step into leadership, as well.

These people are not, for the most part, either extremists or racists. They are skeptics. Skeptical of big government, lying politicians, Wall Street snake oil salesmen--the whole lot of them.

Faculty club types (who I know all too well) believe they suffer from False Consciousness. They don't. They just don't see the world as in need of fundamental remaking along European lines. Remember, that was why colonists left the Old World to begin with.

Andrew Berman writes:

Kling's basic claim is that there aren't enough white small town uneducated (by which I suppose he means no 4 year college) people left to stave off the leeching of their finances by progressive elites to go to others. Comparing voting levels to potential voting levels and contributions of an enraged populace, I doubt that.

And while I was getting my PhD, I went to enough faculty parties to know that I would very much have enjoyed talking with a Tea-Partyer at any of those events. I suggest Kling purchase a copy of "Shop Class as Soulcraft." There's more to life than book-learnin', ya know.

Realist writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Skeptical writes:

> Now, the elitism of President Obama and his
> supporters has reached in-your-face levels. They
> have utter contempt for the Tea Party-ers, and
> the Tea-Party-ers know it.


Please show us your evidence for this assertion, all those quotes or video of Obama showing his utter contempt for the "Tea Party-ers", no snippets out of context please.

In contrast, it's fairly easy to find examples of "Tea-Party-ers" expressing contempt for Obama and for those they disagree with or devalue. Start with the videos of the event or the infamous town halls and go from there.

And what if we look at the official level, at party leaders, Senators and Representatives, administration officials? Show us evidence for the utter contempt from Obama's side. Again, it's not hard to find examples going the other way (pick a congressional Republican at random and your chances are pretty good).

The quoted statement of yours is the core of your "pox on both your houses" piece. But it doesn't hold up. There *is* a crisis here in that the two sides cannot talk to each other reasonably. But that doesn't mean that the cause of this situation derived from both sides.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

Skeptical says "In contrast, it's fairly easy to find examples of "Tea-Party-ers" expressing contempt for Obama and for those they disagree with or devalue."

Of course. But the contempt of the ruler for the ruled, and of the ruled for the ruler, are very different things.

Tea-partiers, the ruled, are contemptuous of those who confiscate their wealth and who would direct their lives. Is this reasonable?

Andrew Berman writes:

From skeptical:
> Please show us your evidence for this assertion, all those quotes or video of Obama showing his utter contempt for the "Tea Party-ers", no snippets out of context please.

Has Obama said anything directly about Tea Party-ers? No.

Have his supporters? Gee, let's see... ever hear or read the phrase 'Tea-Baggers?'

Geoff Howie writes:

> Watch for Ron Paul and other libertarians to step into leadership, as well.

Wow, that will work out well for them.

Lord writes:

Tea-partiers, the ruled, are contemptuous of those who confiscate their wealth and who would direct their lives. Is this reasonable?

How ironic when they are subsidized by those elites. They would claim this is not the government they want, but it is the government they elected and supported through peace and war, through prosperity and crisis up to this time. Two faced when it comes to programs and taxes, cuts and spending, deficits and debt, theirs and others values. I think there is room for another party, but followers of cable news and talk radio aren't them.

Tom G writes:

The original post and most of the subsequent comments seem to suffer from an excess of emotion (utter contempt!) and a shortage of specific, well-defined claims.

For example, on the issue of the "elite." The average McCain voter was richer and better educated than the average Obama voter. By the most obvious definitions of the "elite", they are supporters of Republican policies. Obama won voters with less than $50K of income by 22 points. Obama won high school drop-outs by 28 points.
See here:

For that matter on the issue of contempt, what I have seen of Glenn Beck suggests he is worthy of contempt. But I am open to being persuaded. Does someone want to defend the man who believes that Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture"?


b-psycho writes:

If there was a coherent philosophical point behind the protests then maybe I'd see an argument they should be taken seriously. But there really isn't. The few on-message types focused on spending seem to only get a rise out of blowing those dollars when it's Democrats doing it, meanwhile the rest can't seem to decide whether they blame everything on immigrants, abortion, liberals, or liberals paying for immigrants' abortions with tax money.

Considering the road the U.S. is traveling on at the moment, a popular movement built on anti-state principles is sorely needed. This ain't it.

Rob J writes:

... my "progressive urbran" friends work on average about 60-70 hours per week. Some work closer to 90 hours a week. In my experience most of them are far busier working than these blowhard tea-party folk.

I'll bet a nickel that your progressive friends get their salary from my hard working non-progressive friends in the private sector.

EbolaCola writes:

"as long as us small-town uneducated Americans continue to produce most of the food for the world, we will still hold political significance"

*cough* protectionism *cough*

If you work in the agricultural sector in America than you are no better than a Cadillac driving Welfare-Queen.

The rest of the world will be happy to take up the role of supplying food when free trade finally comes to the agricultural sector.

q writes:

> Does someone want to defend the man who believes that Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture"?

what a crock of bs. obama is just as white as he is black. he has one black parent and one white parent. i have no idea if he privately hates white culture, but he certainly hasn't rejected it. he's, what, harvard educated, a lawyer, a politician, a legislator? he is a figure of the establishment. that he might 'hate' the establishment is patently false.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

Lord says "How ironic when they are subsidized by those elites. They would claim this is not the government they want, but it is the government they elected and supported through peace and war, through prosperity and crisis up to this time."

This is exactly my point about feeling unrepresented, hence the tea parties.

Conservatives are given the choice of either tax-and-spend or tax-cut-and-spend, so that when they hold their nose and vote for the latter they can be accused of "electing" it, or worse, being "subsidized" by it.

MARCU$ writes:

A lot of people here seem to regard Obama as an arrogant and divisive politician who "looks down" on rural white conservatives. I am a little bit puzzled by that as he has said very little that could be regarded as derogatory, apart from the "they cling to God and guns" gaffe which I think he apologized for. His beloved maternal grandparents were rural whites after all!
Comparing Obama's take on Red America and Sarah Palin's views on "Real" Americans, would you really describe the latter as less divisive??


John Benton writes:

Wow, just look through these posts. This fracture(s) within America is a problem, and it is a serious problem that is only going to get worse, if this economy continues to fail to meet everyone's expectations which seems likely. You want a "semi coherency" to this "movement?" Fear. Fear, distrust, and a vague helpless feeling that none of our institutions can save us. And be real, all of us, in every tent, are still just hoping to be saved. And who, honestly, needs an explanation of just how both side are going to end up losing?
What I think.
Let the man think out loud. Do not look to nitpick language or infer bias. We need this discussion.

MARCU$ writes:

> Elite contempt for rural white and conservative
> America has grown in proportion to their reliance
> on wealth confiscated from conservatives to
> finance their unhinged planet-saving schemes.

As I recall, according to a survey by THE ECONOMIST magazine from eight years ago the states that voted for Bush tended to be poorer, more rural, more white *and* they received more federal subsidies than the "Blue" ones too! So the Blue states are actually subsidizing the Red ones. I doubt very much that anything has changed in this regard, see e.g. the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska.


Ken G writes:

I majored in Econ, consider myself a small "l" libertarian, and have been considered by some people as reasonably literate.
I read this article and found that the only thing Kling is really in contempt of is politics. I have been to a "tea-party" and found it to be no different than any other overly political group. Sometimes you'll find people kind of kooky and others will have a decent grasp on the issues. The tea parties are there to aggregate people to exert political pressure, be a foil, and generate news to counter politicians currently in office.
Politics are a powerful way to influence politicians and sometimes great ideas in academia do not hold the same amount of influence in the short run for better or worse. Politics are short run and elitist ideas are long run but one without the other accomplishes very little. Politics are contemptible but we all know half of the population is below average (and a lot of them vote (see Kaplan)).
Keep up the good work friends!

Ragnar writes:

I'm not that old, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I imagine during JFK's administration there were those that supported him and those that didn't, but most Americans would rather defend their president than any foreign leader. Today, democrats would rather praise Jacques Chirac than W, and republicans would rather stand with Daniel Hannan than Obama. What Kling is pointing out is that there are increasingly vast differences between the poles in this country. Is he alluding to secession?

I don't know, but I don't see why that would be such a bad thing. The urban "elites" and the small town red staters are finding fewer commonalities. Would Boston residents raise a fuss if they got a letter from Alabama asking for a divorce? Hey, it was fun while it lasted, but maybe it's time to redraw the lines. I'm not talking about armed conflict. I'm talking about a divorce. Might this be the best option for everyone? The blue states could have their high tax, European style socialism, and the red states could have their low tax, laissez-faire, capitalism. They'd both still have problems, but at least they wouldn't have hatred and disdain for one another because they could no longer blame their problems on the other guy.

ginaswo/MiM writes:

you 'wouldn't want us at the faculty picnics either'
THAT summarizes the frustration of the middle class, we are ignored and patronised at every given opportunity, labeled as a dying breed while pandered to (at least labor, witness 2 Obama appearances touting the middle class at labor events today) by the very administration that the liberal gentry thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread

the problem is the implementation of the grand schemes and bright visions will come on the backs of the middle class, and we KNOW IT, despite all the media spin and talk by geithner and Obama that there will be no taxes we SENSE IT

And we are correct, witness Baucus' plan today which for a family of 4 earning 80k will result in premium increases of approx 15% or a giant penalty of $3800, this in a recession...

here's a thought how about getting the housing program functioning properly and turning to meaningful job creation and away from cap and trade and health care mandates on the poor confused ignorant working masses

cannot wait til 2010!

MarcB writes:

Right. And those sophisticated and well-educated suburbanites and cosmopolitans working 60-80 hours a week are having lots of children. Oh wait. No, that's the small town people.

The funny thing about what's being said--that this is conservative America's last stand before being overshadowed by educated elitist--is that the former won't be around in a few generations. The people having babies are conservatives, especially Christian conservatives. There's little precedent for self-annihilation, but that's what's happening to the cosmopolitan set.

John Steele writes:

Too bad for you and your friends, but the founders saw to it that those of us in the great American unwashed have just as much to say about what goes on as you folks with your nose in the air --- or more correctly up your backsides.


geo11 writes:

Mr. Kling keep clinging to your fantasy that there is no major uprising in this nation. You are sorely mistaken and Uranus has too many Klingons already. Sorry, you and your hypothisis must go.

SurferDoc writes:

Ah yes, the lamentably uninformed people from flyover country, probably not even sophisticated enough to hide their racism. God, they probably even have guns at home! How sad that you clever types have to put up with them at all.

Guess what, they don't like you much either and the remember how you regard them when they vote. And they bring their whole families with them.

See you all in 2010.

Tim_CA writes:

..."my sense of class solidarity with Obama and other educated progressives..."

What a douche.


Storybec writes:

Yancey Ward writes:
The movement, and I think it completely fair to call it a movement at this point in time, lacks leadership.

Tea partiers have a leader. It's called the Constitution of the United States of America. These people know how to lead their own lives, provide for their families and raise their children without input from Washington,DC. Whenever they went to the polls, they thought they were electing "Representatives" and "Public Servants" to vote in their best interest in the affairs of state. On any "Progressive" or "Liberal" opinion piece or blog you would pull up right now, you will see these progressives and liberals call their elected officials "Leaders". As if they need and/ or want to be led. Try it, start surfing. You'll see it over and over. This is very telling.
We have one group of Americans who are self sufficient and want government out of their lives. They feel taxed to death and think government has far exceeded the realm of the Constitution and ideals of the founding fathers.
They just want to be left alone and have no impositions on their God given rights and freedom. They don't wish to impose anything on anyone.
On the other hand, we have Dems, Libs, or Progs who feel the need to impose their will and keep taking more and more from the people who want to be left alone. They require a nanny state to live their lives and have to force everyone into their idea of utopia to finance their pipe dreams. They np longer even mention the founding fathers, the Constitution, freedom, liberty, or independence and actually want us to believe these ideas are quaint or were more appropriate for Jim Crow, slavery, and womens suffrage eras. Thus these ideas are now only clung to in the minds of the uneducated, southerners, rcists and bigots. Why they shouldn't even be brought up in polite company.
Me, I'll stand with the Tea Partiers. 233 years ago, the founding fathers put into motion the greatest experiment for personal freedom, personal liberty, and personal independece ever attempted on the face of the Earth. Today's Americans are allowing what was the best geatest hope for mankind to be destroyed right before our eyes. And 50% think the people standing up for the Constitution and personal rights are "wingnuts", "Wackos", "crazies". To you I give my best Dick Cheney,"GFY!"

thedude writes:

"I am a little bit puzzled by that as he has said very little that could be regarded as derogatory, apart from the "they cling to God and guns" gaffe which I think he apologized for."

You really don't listen to Obama, do you? Everytime he says "we're now going to base policy decisons on science" he offends everyone who thinks there are serious scientific and ethical questions to be addressed around stem cell research, abortion on demand, man-made C02 caused climate change, etc. He says this a lot.

He also says things like, "I understand your concern" then he signs into law bills that go completely against the concern he just said he understands. No, if you really "understand my concern" the actual depth of my concern, you'd wait and address those concerns through serious debate, not speeches, and build consensus beyond 53% (or in the case of health care, 45%). Stating that you empathize with us and then doing what you always wanted to do just shows contempt that we'll be satisfied with his empathy. Obviously he either doesn't understand or doesn't care, either way, I'd rather he just be up front that he doesn't really care what his opponents think so he's not going to take the time to try. That'd at least be honest.

You also asked for someone to defend Beck. I'll try. Is he ridiculous? Absolutely. Is his rhetoric overheated? Absolutely. However, I just lived through 8 years of overheated, ridiculous rhetoric from dems go completely unchallenged. Olberman called Bush a liar, a knave, Hitler, etc. every night, as did Maddow, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Howard Dean, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, David Letterman, Steve Colbert, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, Rosie O'Donnell, Joy Behar, the list goes on and on.

I've longed for someone to play the same games from the Republican side, and Beck does that. The ACORN videos are amazing and horrifying. The Van Jones videos are also incredible. Every night Beck shows a "Maccaca moment" from some Democrat. As someone who watched Republicans step in it for 8 straight years and the media beat them over the head relentlessly with no one defending them, while ignoring Democrat scandals, I really like this reversal. I hope he does this for another 4 years.

Blarg the Destroyer writes:

I must start by saying that most of the comments for this post are far more reasoned and thought provoking than the original post.

From what I gathered, from this post, you put a high level of importance on education. However, I don't think your (from my perception on this one post that I've read) understanding of education is correct.

What is education? Education, regardless of what the dictionary tells you, is an accumulated set, or array, of knowledge. I spent 8 years in the military doing strategic and tactical communications. Would you care to have me judge you on your knowledge on encryption protocols, interpolation, encoding, multiplexing....I could go on, but you get the point.

I only have an A.A.S. in electronics tech, but I would love to have a conversation with you regarding Dyson's spheres, or Plank's constant. Perhaps, Heisenburg's uncertainty principles, or Phagenbaum's postulations on entropy.

I fear, from what I've read here, you believe that a degree equals education, which in turn, equals intelligence. The degree does equal education, but it does not equal intelligence.

Here sir, you are wrong. I'd much rather have conversations with self-educated individuals than people who regurgitated what their professor's told them to get a sheepskin.

WendyP writes:

It's amazing how much you were able to ascertain about the "little people" in the 15 minute break from your bike ride. Did you go to see them as one might go to a museum? Or a zoo?

I have spent my entire adult life amongst insufferably effete elitists (almost always left-wing) in major urban areas on the east and west coasts. These are people who lives their lives with stunning hypocrisy, spouting pretentiously-worded yet entirely vapid pronouncements about the state of the world while remaining completely ignorant, not only to the endless parade of failed leftist policies, but to the real world that exists outside the sadly cloistered and pathetically provincial cities of NYC, DC, Boston, LA and SF.

One ex-New Yorker I know told me she'd never met a Republican while she lived in New York, and that she hated to take her children to Disneyland because people from Ohio go there. She told me these things because she assumed I was a member of the group. I've learned to mimic the snobbishness well.

You, Mr. Kling, remind me of that New Yorker. Do you even know how to make your own bed or wash your own clothes without help? I can't imagine that you do.

I would rather spend six hours with any of the families who showed up to give the government what for on Saturday than spend 5 minutes in the faculty lounge at Harvard.

Blarg the Destroyer writes:

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention in my previous post, Mr. Kling; I'm fluent in Russian and Hangook (Korean), and I know enough Arabic to get my point across.

Considering my level of "education" vs. yours, how many languages can you speak (and read)?

Arrogance vs. Intelligence.

leishman writes:

Arnold, you priggish, effete, arrogant jerk!

Wouldn't want them at your faculty picnic, huh?

But you'll LET them grow your food, fix your car, provide your electricity, unclog your sewer line, respond to your 9-1-1 call, cut your hair, send their kids to protect your country, etc.

IS THAT IT??????? Hey, amigo, their vote counts just as much as yours, thank God.

I enjoy at least some of your recherche economics articles. As to your failed, snotty social commentary, perhaps you'd best keep your writing within your pay grade.

Stacy in NJ writes:

A few comments:

1. The Tea party people are no less or more educated than average Americans. They may be less educated than the elites, but the elites on their own are not and will never be a majority. They depend on minorites, the underclass, and aspirational elites to make a governing majority. We are not more educated then in prior generations; we are more credentialed.

2. We're in our current economic and political troubles because of the failed actions/policies of the elites. They are illegitimate.

3. The current atmosphere is profound mistrust because of the profound failure of our "experts". We have a crisis of confidence.

4. Libertarians are heavily involved with the Tea party activites. The folks from Reason and Cato are Participating.

5. The revolution will go viral. The pervasiveness of technology is destroying the legitimacy of old institutions like the educational establishment and the media. Gatekeepers are unable to keep the gates.

stacy in NJ writes:

many of the folks commenting here, who appear to be of the "elite" type, have a very limited and stereotyped idea of what a Tea party person is. That we are all rural and undereducated is obviously false. I've attended two rallies, both in Morristown, NJ, - hardly hicksville. While most of the attendees were white, most were also professionals. At least within the comments here, there seems to be an absolute need to charactorize us as the bible thumping, gun toting, don't know what's best for us crowd. For the Democrats this would be a very serious political mistake. Who do you think independents are?

Tammy writes:

Doesn't the fact that these racist, small-town, ignoramus hicks managed to organize such a large movement without a leader, indeed in the complete absence of any kind of leadership at all, sort of tell you that perhaps they are maybe, just possibly, capable of far more than what someone of your vast, er, intelligence and, uh, refreshing lack of bias might suppose? I suspect that your condescending opinions are the source of great amusement for them.

Unlike those on the Left, these folks don't appear to need someone to dictate their every move, and tell them how to think.

k writes:

In many cases the uneducated may be the most vocal which is where you are getting your opinion.... I know many very educated people who are on board with the tea partys including myself. I think the distinction is the highly educated social sciences (i.e. BS artists who do little of value and are therefore always gov't funded) vs. the highly educated hard scientists and engineers who actually do something of value (funded by our own work in most cases).

The highly educated social sciences know they can not actually survive on their own/are parasites so they know they are screwed.

At the end of the day, value must be produced and the bill must be paid.

Mary writes:

What I don't understand is why liberals always say that the Republican party is the party of the elites and then you, sir, turn around and talk about how poorly educated we are. Oh, wait! I get it now! Liberals are lying to the poor, uneducated, minorities, and big-city dwellers that the Democratic party is the party of the people.

I would like you to know that while I was unable to attend the Washingon D.C. tea party, I did attend one in my area. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats were all represented in the attendees and in the speakers. While we did all agree on specific political issues, we did agree that we want the government to leave us alone and want politicians to keep their oath to defend the Constitution.

As for being uneducated, I will receive my Masters' degree this year, my mother has a Masters, my father has a Bachelors, and the friends I attended the tea party with also have degrees. You are the ignorant one. Do not underestimate middle-class, middle America.

Storybec writes:

k writes:
In many cases the uneducated may be the most vocal which is where you are getting your opinion....

I have attended several Tea Parties and a Town Hall Meeting. The general concensous of the attendies at these functions is that our elected officials are not listening to us. They think they truly are elite and would rather not deal with the unwashed masses at all. If pushed to hold a town hall, they would like to come in, control the meeting, dictate policy and and go back to DC where they can once again ignore their constituents. The unwashed were screaming for the same reason everyone screams from time to time.... they feel the other person isn't listening. In this case it's true. Our representatives are so far gone we are but pests to them.

Party Central writes:

Needless to say, Kling doesn't get it. The people at the "parties" aren't uneducated and they don't represent small town America. They're small-time, non-elite (except in their towns) professionals, small business owners, and the like. In a small town, they'd be the accountants, the guy who owns a drugstore, and so on. They might be the richer people in town, but they won't be the poorer. They don't represent a cross-section of middle America; not too many factory workers are going to be attending a protest against taxes.

The people at the "parties" don't represent - for instance - the majority of Republicans who support FDRstyle programs. The "partiers" share Kling's extreme philosophy: some form of libertarianism, whether they know it or not. They're his country cousins, whether he wants to acknowledge them or not.

See my extensive coverage of their movement at my name's link.

(Also, the email address is valid to avoid this site deleting or not approving this comment; the previous copy of this comment I left ended up getting flagged and I might be on the ban list for showing how Kling was wrong on another instance.)

[N.B. You are not banned. It's just that you never use the same nick or email address twice, so your comments get held in limbo temporarily every time. Please note that if you do not verify any of your email addresses within 24 hours, you will be banned in the future. It's not enough to assert that your email address is valid. If you want to have a reputation as a trustworthy commenter, make it so. We have tried to contact you via your email addresses that you assert to be valid. We await your response.--Econlib Ed.]

Retired Buckeye Cop writes:

Mr Kling:

I'm sure the unwashed masses were grateful that you condescended to be among them for 15 minutes.

However, I challenge your characterization of size the crowd at the Capitol. You write that you got there at Noon but didn't see any protestors until you got to the lawn of the Capitol building. I was there at that same time and there was literally a sea of humanity surrounding the reflecting pool (I have the photographs to prove it). Pennsylvania Ave was shut down for about three hours as protestors marched from Freedom Plaza to the Capitol.

You apparently have all of the awareness -- rather, lack of awareness -- of events like that icon of modern journalism, Charlie Gibson, who didn't know that multiple offices of ACORN agreed to assist a bogus child prostitution brothel.

Mary writes:

In addition to my previous post, I would like to post a silly and stereotypical yet still fact-filled forward I received from one of my dumb, "uneducated" relatives. At least it illustrates the independent nature of middle America and the importance of middle America to supporting the lifestyles of those on the coasts. The point being, you elitists can drop dead.

THE COUNTRY of TEXOARKLA In case things get a little tougher during the next few months,we In LOUISIANA, TEXAS , OKLAHOMA & ARKANSAS have a plan.

Maybe you don't know it, but LOUISIANA , TEXAS , OKLAHOMA , & ARKANSAS have a legal right to secede from the Union. (Reference the Texas/Louisiana-American Annexation Treaty of 1848.)

Here is what can happen:

Barack Hussein Obama, after becoming the President of the United States , begins to try and create a socialist country, then TEXAS , LOUISIANA , ARKANSAS and OKLAHOMA announces that they are going to secede from the Union ...

So what does TEXOARKLA have to do to survive as a Republic?

1. NASA is just south of Houston, Texas. We will control the space industry.

2. We refine over 90% of the gasoline in the United States ...

Like I said: silly but very telling.

[Remainder of this clever but multiply reposted item can be read at dozens of websites and has been elided. Please do not repost material on EconLog that can be read elsewhere--just give a summary or selection and provide the source or original URL. As to whether it's "fact filled": note that at least one blogger who reprints it in full has not been able to find any evidence that the "Texas/Louisiana-American Annexation Treaty of 1848" exists: see See also for some digging into the facts.--Econlib Ed.]

Conservative1st writes:

We uneducated hillbillies may not be able to read, write or cypher but, we got Van Jones fired, exposed ACORN for the sewer it is, slowed Cap and Trade to a crawl, killed FOCA, killed Card Check and put ObamaCare on a respirator.

All kidding aside though, this is some of the most elitist crap I've ever read.

Chet writes:

Mr. Kling:

We likely have more PhD's at my company that at your university. A brief sampling of opinion suggests that the vast majority of this highly educated bunch is overwhelmingly in favor of the Tea Parties and equally opposed to Obama and his policies. Indeed, one of my colleagues even organized a local Tea Party. You really have no concept of how insulting you are to people who are likely more intelligent and better educated than you appear to be.

ron writes:

I'm a university professor with a PhD who has recently attended a local tea party rally. Yes, whites dominated at the affair I attended--but they dominated my home town as well. Most people there yearned for a return to Constitutional principles. They had a genuine fear of loss of freedom through a creeping collectivism and an all-powerful confiscatory central government. They were angry and fearful--as well as terrifically determined. It would be unwise to conclude this movement is on its last legs--and even more foolish to suppose it is comprised of people who are uneducated or racist. They are conservatives--and they are on the move.

Papa Ray writes:

I am one of those great unwashed undereducated Tea Baggers that you passed by on your bike on that beautiful day.

I paid my way to DC bringing my youngest grand son with me as part of his continuing education. BTW, I have to counter about half of the social education he gets from his high school. A high school that teaches from textbooks that are not only incomplete, biased but in some cases just outright wrong. If it wasn't for me he would be about half as educated as he is and believe things that are not true.

You think the divide is growing? Well so do I and millions of Americans in flyover country do too.

Want to know how I really feel about what is going on now and has been going on for years.

Well, here is a little something I wrote. Yes, I know it won't win any writing awards because I only have a high school education and most of that time I was too busy chasing girls to care about the English language and how to use it.

Politics, Whats up with this?

The answer is.....

This time it really is not just about politics.

SOME of us realize that it is about taking control of the United States of America and turning it into a Socialist/Marxist cesspool just like the other failed states in this world.

Well there are millions of us that say that is never going to happen even if millions more are too stupid or liberalized to join us in protecting and preserving our Republic.

We conservatives haven't liked the choices our government has been making for about the last fifty years. But being the silent ones we just kept working and hoping that our government would somehow see the light and the errors in their ways. And being gullible we kept voting for those that lied and said they were for conservative ways and measures and a smaller government....

[Remainder elided and may be read at Please do not repost to EconLog material that appears in full elsewhere.--EconLog Ed.]

materialist writes:

I think I can probably qualify as a member of whatever "intellectual elite" the author would like to define. And, as so often at my own faculty club, I am, while not surprised, nonetheless appalled by his arrogance. Bill Buckley was dead on. The first 2000 names in the Boston telephone directory would beat the hell out of the Harvard faculty as a governing body. Ordinary Americas know that. Intellectual snobs haven't a clue about their own inadequacies, and adamantly hide their intellectual shortcomings (don't kid yourself -they know all about them - they just use big words in the hope that nobody finds them out.)

Regarding the lack of charismatic conservative speakers, these Americans don't really need them. Unlike the "more intelligent" legions of the left, they are independent persons who don't require "opinion leaders" to tell them what they should think.

But that doesn't mean that conservative orators aren't out there, and will not appear at the proper time. Imagine, if you can, what would have transpired if Sarah Palin had just happened to stroll onto that mall among those million conservatives. And just suppose she had been spontaneously moved to give a speech, and had been provided with a microphone to use for that particular purpose ...

LB writes:

I think it is interesting that people assume they know everything about the "tea partiers."

I am a University of Oxford graduate (the one in Oxford, England) and I tea party harder than most. I am also Hispanic and live and work in the center of a great urban metropolis.

You may be thinking, "Ah yes, but you are the exception to the rule Miss." Well, actually, I'm not. Having organized many of these rallies myself and interacted with many of my fellow protesters, I can tell you that I am not a rarity.

I can also tell you that if you gave me a passing glance at a tea party you would assume that I was a small town nobody because I dress up and display my patriotic plumage, and I wave my flag and witty patriotic sign with the rest of 'em.

Please do not assume things that you cannot possibly know.

Thank you.

FLSteve writes:

Mr. Kling,

Your dismissal of tea party participants as largely uneducated is, at best, condescending. I could not attend in Washington, but I did go to the substantially smaller gathering in Melbourne, FL. Among the several hundred attendees were a number of current and retired defense and space engineers and scientists with post-graduate degrees - in other words, rocket scientists! At one time not so long ago, they were considered among the smartest people this society had to offer.

In this gathering I found people readily capable of discussing Hobbs, Locke, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Marx, and how their ideas are influencing the politics of today. I dare say that is not the case with any random group of a few hundred people from your more preferred urbane surroundings.

There were also working class folks who were not as well read, but still had a sound understanding of the founding principles of this nation, and that those principles are threatened by a corrupt congress, and hard leftist president. That these people do not agree with you, or meet your standards of sophistication is your problem, not theirs.

Frankly Mr. Kling, you're a tool. You believe that your degree and your tenure make not only your opinions, but you as a person, superior to those who disagree with you. That, my friend, is the definition of elitism, and you have displayed it dramatically.

Ed Wallis writes:

Oh my.

An elitist "educator" (*pardon* the redundancy /sarc) condescending to - what was that again? - "white small-town" people like ME (born, bred and raised in N.W. WASHINGTON, D.C.).

Yeah - SMALL TOWN, buddy.

You weren't even there. Admit it. 15 minutes...on the fringe...not engaging the folks in conversation, asking questions...

...but only too ready to judge "from above."
It is sooooo tedious to read such
typical ivory tower (oh, did I mention my professional degree from Cornell University?!) constipated rationalizations masquerading as intellectual musings.

Try LISTENING to some of the 2+ million who were there before engaging in such silliness again, sir.

DK writes:

"I wouldn't want the Tea Party-ers at the faculty picnic, either."

After working at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for many years as a Department Administrator, I can guarantee that the Tea Party-ers wouldn't want you "educated elite" at their picnic either.

One thing that's clearly missing in the ivy-covered halls of higher learning is plain 'ole common sense. I've met hundreds of "highly educated, MENSA members", however, most couldn't think their way out of a daily household or work *crisis* if their lives depended on it.

I believe that the "middle class" is what makes this country great. And they're not all rural, uneducated Americans. They're the ones that actually do the work and keep America fed, clothed, and mobile. They do it with hard work and common sense ... not with PhD's in English Literature or Ancient Roman Mythology.

Granted there are many who are highly educated in fields that are important in our society, but without the help of those Tea-partyers, their lives would be chaos. They couldn't survive for a week without help from those "uneducated" workers.

I don't feel you've judged the Tea Partyers fairly, or accurately. Many ARE educated. Remember, wisdom comes from experience, not from a degree. Don't be so quick to dismiss that collective wisdom.

Jim Anderson writes:

My father possessed a doctorate degree and could have been a professor in Boston. He dissuaded me - and he was dissuaded himself - from following that course with this simple statement: "Professors are men who know more and more about less and less. And when they become true experts in the narrowest area of their expertise - they know all there is to know about very, very little."

Face it - professorial elites will ALWAYS look with contempt on middle-America and consider them - with no evidence - what they call 'uneducated.'

Let me point out an indisputable fact: Virtually no professor in the overwhelming majority of today's universities has the deep, rich classical philosophical and liberal arts knowledge considered to be the bare minimum required for a man to call himself 'educated' - a minimum that was imparted to college students throughout America as recently as the 1940's.

Unless a current professor is a classics professor, the odds are overwhelming that he cannot be considered a 'fully educated' man possessing the discipline, depth and breadth of knowledge and history required of a simple liberal arts undergraduate student at Harvard in the 1890's.

And certainly, by the standards of serious European Universities, the educations of many American professors would be consider a joke, a disgrace or both.

Most of these self-described educated professorial elites have usually pursued their bachelor degree requirements at institutions that have NO prescribed and rigorous required undergraduate [bachelor's degree] curriculum.

Those old required curriculum courses have been replaced. For the past forty years - at least - future professors could take: i.e. "Toaster Repair for Poets" [UNH 1972]- as fulfillment of one of their bachelor's degrees science requirements. [That course is a snowflake on an iceberg of crap that fits into that category.]

I will bet my bottom dollar that the overwhelming majority of young professors today have little knowledge of the history of western civilization and have probably not taken a course in it since high school.

The 'elective system' for fulfilling liberal arts requirements destroyed the worth of much of the education these charlatans received.
They are stuck with an 'a la carte' knowledge of the world that they fancy to be all encompassing.

Why they have hated the so-called uneducated middle class guy for so long, dates back to the Socialist movement in American commencing in the 1870's and arriving on the back of Marxist thought.
Why? Consider this: Professors - prior to the 2nd industrial revolution, where highly regarded and among the most respect members of their communities. For their station in life, they were paid to live comfortably but not luxuriously. They had security in return.

But then - along came guys like Andrew Carnegie who left school at around age 14, later founded US Steel, and became a regular guest at the White House and his opinion on all matters of consequence were sought by leaders the world over.

How bitter must that pill have been to swallow knowing that:
"I, Professor and Doctor of Phrenology were not asked my opinion. Little Carnegie makes more money during his breakfast hour than I will make in my career. Where is the justice???!!! Evils of capitalist freedom have wrought this vile inequity! Capitalism has venerated the uncouth and left me and my superior intellect in the dust. My knowledge is superior to that of little Carnegie. Why am I not feted and dined by the well-to-do? Why are not my bon mots followed by feverish fans?

And my God! Guys who led MacDonald's Burgers to world wide fame appeared on the covers of all major magazines. Books were written about them. The military generals asked their opinions on mass food preparation. For God's Sake! All these guys did was franchise a hamburger machine and a clown! What about me!!!!???
I have personally discovered multiple errors in the White Rat Behavioral Negative Stimulus Trial at Idaho State in 1991. My paper is the SEMINAL paper on the errors. I'm brilliant! But no one notices!!! Why am I not rewarded with riches!!!
[and a lot of attention.]
Why are those stinking, risk taking, put-it-all- on-the-line-type of people - those darned people who have the confidence I lack and who create original ideas beyond my imagination and then risk everything they own to prove their idea - why are they always getting invited to speak to Congress? Why are they paid thousands of dollars for speeches? What about me!!!!! I'm an elite and educated genius who has great ideas and great thoughts and - my psychologist says - many ideations of false grandeur - whatever that means.

The picture of the philosophical divide between people who have degrees and are often misled to think the are well educated - and those who have imagination, creativity and the balls to put their money where their ideas are [and not in a dry academic journal of the month where the ideas produce 'zero' good, zero profits, and zero improvement in the daily lives of Americans.]

After all, there are guys in America running liquor store chains and successful automotive repair shops who rake in twice as much as the top
professors at Harvard per year.

It is not just contempt with which we in middle America are viewed. We are often viewed with a vast unspoken jealousy and envy by those in academia who would judge us.

Why me?? Why couldn't I invent a hamburger assembly line and become rich?

Why? Because if I don't have the guts to analyze Dylan Thomas, then who will?

Jim Anderson
Needham, Massachusetts

Stan Redmond writes:

What a very cynical, smug, and elitist view of a majority of this country. Was it for lack of Prius hybrids in the parking lots or that there were no one on bicycles you came to this conclusion? Was uneducated racism displayed when no one cared about your Seeger reference? Was it racism because there was not a majority of black Americans at this rally even (though 95% strongly approve of Obama and aren't going to running off to protest him and the democrats)? Meditate on this thought before you call millions of Americans (both at the gathering and and those that weren't at the rally that abhor the political nonsense in DC) it's the smug elitist who run the miserable school system. So anyone who accepts your faulty premise that the 9-12 project is racist and uneducated there is no one to blame but more smug elitist educrats. The race card is getting old and each time someone like you opens up their mouths to spout out "RACIST" the more infuriated we get, the more you pit white Americans and black Americans, and the more you diminish the awfulness of genuine racism.

One has to wonder what you thought of the million man march.

When in doubt, blame Bush

When still in doubt, it's "racism"

When in even more doubt, it's "global climate change"

MARCU$ writes:

> The funny thing about what's being said--that
> this is conservative America's last stand before
> being overshadowed by educated elitist--is that
> the former won't be around in a few generations.
> The people having babies are conservatives,
> especially Christian conservatives.

By your logic, the general trend towards secular progressivism plus the diminished importance of religion and tradition in the entire Western world during the past century (*even* in the United States) should never have happened... Statists and self-described "progressives" have made enormous gains in the U.S. already. Young conservatives do not automatically share the values of the parents regarding e.g. civil rights for blacks or homosexuality. There are still "social conservatives", true, but their lifestyle is and always will be affected by the same social changes etc. as everybody else.
Finally, the fastest growing demographic group (Hispanics) tends to favor Democratic economic policies. E.g. Texas currently does not invest enough in education and there are worries that there will be a "lost generation" of mostly Hispanic Texans that lack the skills required by the knowledge economy. The median income of Texas ranks 37th. What happens to the GOP majority in Texas once the rapidly growing Hispanic bloc starts voting _en masse_? I somehow don't think they will automatically identify with the laissez faire economic policies of Rush Limbaugh and the "Tea Baggers"...


whiskey writes:

Democrats are collapsing.

They are collapsing in a bitter spoils fight over how to spend the money on what constituencies: Blacks (12.5% of the population), Hispanics (around 20% of the population, significant portions illegal aliens), various women's groups, all the while aiming to screw over the Middle Class White voter. Still the largest group.

This is not rural small town America vs. Harvard and Yale. This is middle class SUBURBAN America vs. Harvard and Yale.

Harvard and Yale have ENORMOUS amounts of money in that social class. It's simply amazing how much middle-man money this social strata has been able to make, mostly allied with political fixers such as Jackson, Sharpton, Obama, Farrakhan etc.

As long as times were good, and the pain by the fixer class along with the Harvard-Yale "Yuppie Scum" axis was not too great, Middle Class (almost entirely White) America did not care.

Now with their hands on the money, and not having to share with ANYONE, the Yuppie Scum Harvard-Yale types along with the political fixers from Black and Hispanic communities, the ACORNS and Van Jones and the like, are aiming to kill the Middle Class Goose along with the eggs, out of sheer greed.

TAXES: Soda taxes, highway driving taxes (with GPS in every car to do this), junk food taxes, booze taxes, GREEN taxes on EVERYTHING, food prices jumping by 10,000 percent (Cass Sunstein wants to make beef, pork, and chicken so expensive only Donald Trump can eat it), the Green Police regulating your shower heads, outlawing bathtubs, barbecues, lawnmowers, light bulbs (mandating $8 light bulbs instead of ones costing $0.50) and so on make ordinary life MISERABLE for almost every American -- and HAVE DEMOCRATIC stamps on them.

Your Harvard Prof can afford all this -- he makes $300,000 a year. A middle class guy on $60,000 a year? He's hurting, and Obama and Dems put the hurt on. While delivering a jobless economy that continues to have high risk he'll be laid off.

There were about 2 million people there, in DC, and Dems are scared. Obama and Dems could not resist in conducting a massive tax and regulation raid on Joe Average -- making this a mortal political fight to the death between elites and the populists. If elites win, there will be only a mass of impoverished, racially divided poor people with the living standard seen in the movie Deliverance (and social attitudes to boot). If the populists win, pretty much every elite institution and network will be destroyed, starting with Harvard and Yale which will be raided for it's funds, and made into "state schools" serving a commuter base of say, 100,000 students. In other words debased like Obama's printing of the dollar to worthless levels.

This fight is vicious and brutal because it is about power and patronage. The elites seek to rule for their own benefit like the hereditary aristocracy they are becoming, and the populists want money spent on THEM. For their benefit.

Gregory writes:

The country is not becoming more URBAN. The country is becoming more SUBurban and EXurban.

How this fits into the Urban ===> Small Town Spectrum is something someone else can post.

As the country does become more Suburban, the Suburbs are seeing more of its share of elitists, gentry liberals and Democrats, rather than its once solid Republican core. Still likely more GOP than Dem.

dillan d writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Laura writes:

For an economist, I must say "you ain't got much smarts". The same could be said of most of the posts here.

The fact remains, and will always be that people vote their pocketbooks. For all of you elitist Democrats sitting on high right now, I would be worried.

Most Americans are not hard core Democrats or Republicans. They will vote for those who promise to do as little damage to their own financial wellbeing as possible.

How soon we forget the lessons of 1980 and 1992!

susan writes:

If you look at the demographics of conservative and liberal websites you will find they are almost identical regarding income and education.

However, at the base of the Democratic party you will find the most uninformed people in the country i.e. union thugs, acorn workers, illegals and brainwashed college students.

Also, the shot and a beer guys, the ones hanging out at the local dive, the guys with pickup trucks and guns are usually liberal Democrats which goes to further highlight their ignorance.

No one with a cursory knowledge of history and the ability to think critically would hand their freedom over to any man or any group of men, no matter how eloquent or convincing.

weisshaupt writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address. Please respond to email sent from to request reinstating your comment privileges. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Mike P writes:

What I always find very interesting in these types of discussions is that it's in bounds to assume the worst about so called "liberal elites" (they they're full of disdain for "ordinary" Americans, that they want nothing more than to raise you taxes and spend those funds on giving health care to illegal immigrants, all while figuring out ways to take your guns and make you eat arugula), but the second a person has the gall to question any aspect of the lives or underlying political assumptions of those in "flyover country" then a line has been crossed. I grew up in southern VA along the North Carolina border. I know what "middle Americans" look like and sound like because that's where I'm from. I eventually landed in San Francisco after graduating from college and now am in NYC for grad school, so merely admitting to all that probably makes my opinions moot for some folks, but whatever. I'd like to really understand why it's ok for one group to assume to worst about some of their fellow countrymen, but if the tables are turned, we can't have that conversation.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top