One of the significant downsides to living in a metropolitan area is the vile smugness and condescension that is displayed on every street corner and at every cocktail party and brunch and casual conversation. The trivial fact that these pompous asses live in Park Slope rather than suburban Kansas City or Montana or Eastern Washington or West Virginia gives them the thoroughly ridiculous impression that they are superior…intellectually; socially, sexually, gastronomically, aesthetically…
It is elitism; pure and simple, and it is misplaced. As a thoroughly unscientific sample, my experience is that if you want to be snubbed and treated rudely and hear all sorts of jingoistic blather about pretty much every topic of import, then spend some time in the blue cities and their suburbs. But if you want to be treated kindly and with compassion and without reference to your skin color or religion or politics, then head to Middle America.
One of the many things the pandemic has taught us is that the phrase “the common sense of the American people,” so beloved by politicians on the stump, needs to be dropped off a bridge. Anyone relying on the common sense of the American people is leaning on air.
This is a serious allegation, as Mr. Wolcott well knows, schooled as he was before classrooms were overrun by Education Professionals. The American experiment in liberty ultimately depends, we were once taught, on the judgment of its citizens. We the people needn’t be Aristotles to elect wise representatives, but our Founders recognized that a nation of fools can only ever be counted on to elect slightly more clever fools.
Clever intellectuals certainly play a valuable role in society. If I want an insightful countercultural observation or a snappy turn of phrase, I’ll happily turn to James Wolcott, whose writing I’ve always enjoyed. But as for how to live a life, I believe I’ll stick to the wisdom of my people out here in the sticks. It’s gotten us this far, and from the looks of things in New York City, I dare say we’re doing all right, despite having not a single Vanity Fair writer in our midst.
Being glib, or, if you prefer, articulate, is not an indicator of intelligence. Direct your attention to any one of 50 TV news pundits for proof. Being critical and dismissive of others is not an indicator of intelligence or sophistication. It is however a powerful indicator of being an asshole.
I have spent most of my life in and around blue cities, and yet the number of impressive interactions with strangers is dwarfed when compared to my time in “flyover country.”
And why is that? Because those elites, who are overwhelmingly to the left, have accepted the progressive cant that humanity is fungible, that we have no spark of the divine in us, that we are lumps of protoplasm that can be interchanged with any other. We are not individuals, we are simply the herd, and can be dismissed as such without any thought.
That way lies North Korea and Cuba and Venezuela and the gulags and the concentration camps, so I will happily accept the judgement of America’s common sense over the pontifications of the elites.