Mini-Rumination: Unelite Elites

The Curmudgeon has never been much for all this talk about “elites.”  As far as he can tell, most of the people who complain about elites are just looking for an easy way to label people who don’t agree with them.  Instead of talking about such disagreements in a constructive way, they find it easier to try to stick a nasty label on the people with whom they disagree.  Besides, when people talk about elites they’re usually talking about east coast liberals who attended highly regarded colleges.  Well, that description fits The Curmudgeon to a T, but anyone who knows him knows there’s nothing about The Curmudgeon that’s even remotely elite.

This came to mind last week when The Curmudgeon was reading the latest edition of the magazine Washington Monthly.  He adores Washington Monthly.  It’s leftist, sure, but it also features a healthy dose of common sense.  He’s read it on and off since 1983, when he first found back issues sitting on a bookshelf at the non-profit for which he worked at the time.

The March/April edition of Washington Monthly includes what appeared to be a promising article about airline deregulation – “promising” because The Curmudgeon never finished it.  Fairly early in the article, authors Phillip Longman and Lina Khan wrote that

If you’re a member of the creative class who rarely does any business in the nation’s heartland or visits relatives there, you might not notice the magnitude of economic disruption being caused by lost airline service and skyrocketing fares.

The Curmudgeon will never know if “Terminal Sickness” fulfilled its promise because the sentence above was the last one he read:  he knows when he’s being talked down to by people who think they’re special – and better than their readers.  “Creative class”?  Please – someone get The Curmudgeon an airsick bag.

Washington Monthly is a terrific magazine:  interesting, insightful, thought-provoking, and generally well-written.  If The Curmudgeon could subscribe to only one magazine about public affairs it would be either Washington Monthly or Mother Jones.  On this particular occasion, however, Washington Monthly struck out:  struck out big time.  The Curmudgeon doesn’t know Phillip Longman and Lina Khan but he can recognize smug, superior-acting people a mile away and he’ll be damned if he’ll give them his attention when, despite their self-importance and self-aggrandizement (not to mention the sheer stupidity of the assertion in which the offending remark was made), they don’t even have the good sense to know how to repress their desire to look down on people for long enough to try to get their message across.  Was there a point to their article?  The Curmudgeon will never know, and he’ll never know because in the end, Longman and Khan – apparently elite wannabes – lacked the communication skills to hold at least one reader’s attention. That’s neither elite nor creative.

It’s just dumb.

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