The Street and the Elite


Good for the Elite, Bad for You

They are for civility in political discourse except when it is they who are uncivil.

They send their children to the finest private schools although they support keeping the children of the poor and the middle class in America’s public schools. They trumpet energy conservation for ordinary people while they live in grand air-conditioned mansions and travel in SUVs and private jets. They are for tolerance except when it is they who act intolerantly, and they are for diversity except when diversity means that they should treat contrarian political views with fairness and respect.

And on the question of political power they favor scrutinizing the activities of their opponents, because they fear ambition in opponents for its potential for abuse, while they are for empowering themselves, because they appreciate ambition in themselves for its potential to create.

They are the men and women of the high liberal elite in government, the Democratic Party leadership, the entertainment industry, the ‘progressive’ pressure groups, and the media, and they are resolute in getting what they want by imaging their opponents – sometimes directly and sometimes by insinuation – as racists, sexists and right-wing conspirators.

The answer to the abuse of power, both reason and historical experience teach, is to set up a counterweight. James Madison wrote in Federalist 51 that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Montesquieu penned that “it has been eternally observed that any man who has power is led to abuse it; he continues until he finds limits.” John Adams wrote that “the nation which will not adopt an ‘equilibrium of power’ must adopt a despotism – there is no alternative.” And Malcolm X said “power never takes a step back – only in the face of more power.”