It’s Official: We’re an Elitist Snob Country Now

Well, it has been since 2008, but Janet Daley at the Telegraph has a Brit’s “déjà vu all over again” feeling about it:

What is more startling is the growth in America of precisely the sort of political alignment which we have known for many years in Britain: an electoral alliance of the educated, self-consciously (or self-deceivingly, depending on your point of view) “enlightened” class with the poor and deprived.

America, in other words, has discovered bourgeois guilt. A country without a hereditary nobility has embraced noblesse oblige. Now, there is nothing inherently strange or perverse about people who lead successful, secure lives feeling a sense of responsibility toward those who are disadvantaged. What is peculiar in American terms is that this sentiment is taking on precisely the pseudo-aristocratic tone of disdain for the aspiring, struggling middle class that is such a familiar part of the British scene.

Liberal politics is now – over there as much as here – a form of social snobbery. To express concern about mass immigration, or reservations about the Obama healthcare plan, is unacceptable in bien-pensant circles because this is simply not the way educated people are supposed to think. It follows that those who do think (and talk) this way are small-minded bigots, rednecks, oiks, or whatever your local code word is for “not the right sort”.

If this sticks–and there’s no reason to think it won’t, at least for a while–it’s a sea change in American life.  What’s really amazing about this is how blindly so many substantial segments of the American population–especially Generation Y–accept this and follow along, even if their economic interests are compromised in the bargain.  That’s why Barack Obama could get away with his “Bibles and guns” comment and the like.  Not only is the snobbery absolute, in this age of rapid dissemination of just about everything, it’s blatant, but people just go along with it.

Evangelicals need to take note of this, and do so in a hurry.  That’s because American Evangelicalism in particular is very populistic in nature, and has relied on a populistic culture to thrive.  If we don’t wake up and rethink our idea, life in this country for Evangelicals will continue to be the “nine yards and a cloud of dust” business it’s been for some time–at best.

There’s a cloud in every silver lining, though, and Daley notes it carefully:

What is most depressing about this – apart from the injustice of it – is that the people who have been disenfranchised and disowned are the very ones on whom both countries’ economic recovery depends.

I’m not sure that our élites–particularly those in government–especially care if we experience real economic recovery, as the upward social mobility that would result is always a threat to those already at the top.  But they may not like the social unrest that results, especially if it’s mixed with a debt-induced national bankruptcy.

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