As midterm elections approach, the patterns of partisan mudslinging begin to take shape. When the choruses of TV spots, catchwords, and slogans ring in, the white noise melts away, and the core issues come through. Candidates need to locate this heartbeat in the electorate and ride that rhetorical intensity to a winning ballot.
Sure, there’s the fun stuff. The nasty controversies and stupefying scandals. The choke-on-your-TV-dinner political gossip Hunter Thompson said was better than sex. But that’s doesn’t help us take America’s pulse. For that, political scientist Charles Murray stepped in and explained just why the Tea Party is so up in arms.
In a recent article, Murray posits that the “new elite” is out of touch with ordinary voters, and galvanizing Tea Party fervor is a predictable backlash.
By churning out top degrees and clustering in academic/political bastions like NYC, Boston, and D.C., “Isolated and ignorant” elites, according to Murray, are widening the “chasm” between elite snobs and struggling, disenfranchised Americans.
An old, white, Washingtonian academic, Murray (B.A. Harvard ’65, Ph.D. MIT ’74) may have a point. Perhaps a self-perpetuating class of over-educated Lefties—the Bourgeois Bohemians, Brooks’ BoBos that stick in the Tea Party’s craw—are ignorantly segregated from the blood and guts of the USA.
To make things a bit clearer, Murray, with help from Claire Berlinski, gives us a fun test to see if you’re in the “new elite.”
Remember, each of these questions is a decisive indicator of your status as either “new elite” or “of America.”
TV: Do you watch Mad Men? How about The Sopranos? Who replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is Right? Do you watch Oprah?
Sports: Do you do yoga? Pilates? Do you Ski? Do you mountain bike? Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? No, no, not that Jimmie Johnson, the other Jimmie Johnson? What does MMA stand for?
Books: Can you talk about books endlessly? Have you read a Left Behind novel? What about a Harlequin romance?
Leisure Time: Do you take interesting vacations? Can you talk about “a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevadas or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor?” Have you vacationed in an RV? Have you taken a cruise? Ever heard of Branson, Missouri?
Community: Have you ever been to a Kiwanis Club meeting? What about a Rotary Club meeting? Have you ever lived in a small town? Have you ever lived in a place where most neighbors didn’t have college degrees? Have you spent a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line? Do you have a close friend who is an Evangelical Christian? Ever visited a factory floor? Ever work on one?
After cataloging your soul with exacting introspection, check in with Murray’s article and see how you fared.