I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

The Thinking Reed

with one comment

So, in having a conversation this morning about Cindy McCain’s $300,000 outfit for a convention in which her husband and his supporters ranted about elitism, I had a bit of a “You keep using that word” moment. The Republican leadership do not seem to be opposed to “practice of or belief in rule by an elite” – that’s who they represent, after all. Nor can I truly believe that they have no “consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group”.

Then I realized – late to the party, probably – that elitism = intellectualism to this crowd. Which still sort of baffled me, at which point I remembered a conversation my first semester of college with a friend from high school in which she threw “You and your friends are so intellectual” at me like it was the most insulting thing she chould have said to me. Whereas she had a better high school GPA and ACT score than I had and showed no sign of changing that in college, she completely acknowledged that she had no interest in settling down with a carafe of cheap wine and bummed cigarettes for an in depth discussion of whether Kierkegaard was superior to Hagel. While I was firmly of the “hell is other people” crowd and had directed Sartre’s No Exitfor drama class the year before, she was firmly of the “hell is other people who want me to think while I drink” crowd. She did fabulously in school, got a job right out and as far as I know is wonderfully happy. If her politics are anything like what they were when she was avoiding any sort of political discussion with her radical roommate, then she is voting McCain-Palin.

Now, I certainly understood what she meant, in that I know what the words mean and what she was trying to convey. She didn’t want to think about what she had learned after she learned it. She wanted to use it, but she got no rush out of dissecting it. She didn’t like the process of struggling with a concept or not knowing what to think about something. She didn’t like engaging in discussions of the meaning of things. She was secure in her God and in her calling and that was enough for her.

Watching the wealthy, successful republicans, many of whom, I’m sure, attended the same east coast Ivy League schools they deride Obama for attending – and discussing it and chewing it over and analyzing it (of course) – I suddenly put two and two together. What they are talking about and what roomie was talking about are the same phenomena – the issue is not being successful, or even thinking that you are better than others for being successful – that after all is the American Dream.

The issue is actually thinking about what it means to be successful and questioning the status quo. There is also a classism element here – the Republicans are trying to turn that on the Dems, I think – i.e., you have to be well off and cushy to have the luxury of thinking, not doing. But that’s where I think that the ‘Pubs are wrong – they are selling the American people short by assuming that intellectual = advanced education. What they don’t realize is that “east cost intelligentsia” (of which I am one, let’s be honest) don’t own the market on reading and thinking and discussing. A lot of people sell this short, not just the Republicans. It is a mistake to assume that someone needs a college degree to think critically. It is a mistake to assume that someone must work in an office to be interested in politics. The great thing about thinking is that it can be free.  The catch is lowering the cost.

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Written by emandink

September 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm

One Response

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  1. […] this part of an ongoing series about what certain terms and phrases mean.  See also elitism and […]


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