As recently as two months ago, this country was run by elites: latte-sipping, liberal arts degree-holding, pilates-skipping elites. Fortunately, the election of Donald Trump and meteoric re-ascendence of the Republican Party has solved all that. Now that the billionaire son of a millionaire is president, America is going to start working for ordinary people again. And you know who will be leading the charge? Conservative pundits. They’ve broken free of the oppression that confined them to think tanks and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and now they’ve taken up the cry of the real American. Today is Friday, and we’re finally going to do something about the elitists who stopped tax cuts for the rich and saddled the country with burdensome welfare programs. Won’t you go sans culottes with me?
Shamus Khan’s opinion piece about “The New Elitists” initially made me angry. Sure, I enjoyed the sweet anecdote about William Vanderbilt getting snubbed by the New York Academy of Music, and I’m always up for a screed against the rich. The rich are given resources out of all proportion to their talent and usefulness, usually by their parents. It’s a peculiar way to run a country that defined itself against inherited aristocracy, although it makes more sense if you think of the United States as the country that defined itself against Marxism. My complaint is that Khan focuses his column on cultural elitism—the “omnivorousness” that passes for sophistication but is often simply the hallmark of privilege. I consider myself a cultural omnivore. I like Sean Paul’s art and Jean Paul Sartre. Must I therefore be an elite?