Far from spending their college years in a meritocratic melting pot, the New Elite spend school with people who are mostly just like them -- which might not be so bad, except that so many of them have been ensconced in affluent suburbs from birth and have never been outside the bubble of privilege. Few of them grew up in the small cities, towns or rural areas where more than a third of all Americans still live.
I am going to disagree with the thrust of Murray's article, which is that the problem of the elite is that they are out of touch with much of America. I think instead that the problem is that those in the elite who go into politics believe that they know more than they really do. In my view, we are in a "cycle of failure," in which policies fail, political leaders respond by usurping more power ("we need to strengthen regulation"), failures get worse, more power gets usurped, etc.
I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones.
I fear that this is true. The fight is mostly over who gets to hold the reins of power. Restructuring our political system to reduce the concentration of power is a fringe idea.
I was reminded of its fringiness when I spoke several days ago on the themes of Unchecked and Unbalanced. The audience consisted of members of the conservative elite, and the reception was polite bafflement.
Admittedly, I may have been responsible for some of the bafflement. Before the talk, I kept revising it, without coming up with a truly satisfying outline. But what the audience wanted to hear (and what they got from most of the other speakers) was a message that once the Republican establishment is back in power, all will be well. There is no way that I could have said that.