Is Government ‘Elitist’, Or Just Showing Leadership?

Are the citizens of a nation always right?  Today as I followed the news that question came to mind, again.

Two examples in two different countries point to a larger issue that I think should be thought about.

In the United States President Obama and the Democrats in congress urged the public to understand that the health care component to the larger economy was in dire need of repair.  A plan was fashioned, voted on, and signed into law.  A loud segment of the nation found the law unsupportable and are striking back in the mid-term elections.

Meanwhile in France  a seventh day of strikes and clashes are taking place.  The problem has grown to such an extent that France has begun importing electricity as the wave of strikes against pension reforms takes hold of energy supplies.

The news is so bad that President Sarkozy warned that the economy and jobs could be hit if the disruption did not end quickly.

I think these two issues should make us think a bit.

Here in America the Democrats have often been labeled as elitist and out of touch.  ‘How dare they preach to us, or try to ram their national policies down our throats’ is the common type of refrain often heard on the campaigns trail from those who are upset.

But is it not the role of leaders to outline a problem facing the nation and then find ways to remedy it?  Does fulfilling the role of leadership make Obama and the Democrats ‘elitist’ for thinking about a matter and acting?  Is Sarkozy ‘elitist’ for taking a stand on pension reform and thinking France needs to have a higher retirement age?

Given the populist wave in America against those who are educated, study the issues, and work to find remedies then should I assume the Tea Party would be on the side of the protestors who are angry at  Sarkozy?  And if not, why not?  Are the citizens of France not fighting the ‘elitist’ attitudes of government too?

Or is the Tea Party only opposed to smart people living within their own country?

The idea that smart people are to be shunned from office, and only those who somehow yell loud enough are worthy of election is a frightful thing.  To be called elitist because one actually cares enough to read, study, and care about an issue is a really horrible way to frame an election. 

It would also be a dreadful way to run America should they win in numbers large enough to matter.

4 thoughts on “Is Government ‘Elitist’, Or Just Showing Leadership?

  1. Patrick

    This post actually brings up an interesting point worthy of some thought. I don’t know much about French politics, but the anger in France is nothing like the anger directed at liberal elites here in the US.

    The problem for Dems, as I see it, is that they do not come across as the thinking, moderate, end enlightened group you suggest they are. I think that the country believes that few of them read or understood the 2,000 page healthcare bill or understood it well enough to articulate the truth of it to the public. I think most would suspect that the average Dems in the legislature who voted for the bill were going along with the power structure set in place by pelosi, reid and little barak. Also, rather than trying moderate measures and pilot programs–like allowing insurance companies to sell low cost policies designed to meet the needs of consumers–they demanded uniformity. The same congress which has controlled the legislature since 2006 and could not clearly see the problem in the housing market, or with the un-stimulus, or with the healthcare system can only point to the illusion of millions of jobs “saved or created” or that “once it is passed people will like it.” Concrete to the voters is the crushing debt and deficit numbers.

    The point is that a thinking and reasoning legislative body takes the time to read, experiment, and convince: it does not use reconciliation to reshape the healthcare system. Elites–people who remind you again and again how they are smarter and better read yet produce very dissappointing results, at best–are a different sort. Elites tell you that every question is racist, every other opinion is– for some reason they don’t bother to explain– foolish; they have no use for the common man or the man of common sense.

    Or, consider the elitist moralist Obama who told us how awful Gitmo was–a stain on the national image. But he comes into office, finally reads about the situation, then decides the place is the best solution to a difficult problem. (I notice you don’t mention the outrage of Gitmo much anymore)

    Like liberals, many republicans, conservatives, and tea party members are elites too. The problem is that dems were asked to fix the way washington worked but instead decided to change how america worked. Obama has only made washington more bitter and divided; he was elected to fix it, but was, and is, too full of his dreams of himself to change.

  2. Skip

    “(I notice you don’t mention the outrage of Gitmo much anymore)”

    Yeah. What happened? And, since I like grilling you on your love of Obama, where’s the outrage about DADT? A year ago you proclaimed “President Obama To End Military Gay Policy ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’”.

    And you accused the Supreme Court of betraying gay military members:

    Well now your beloved Obama submitted an “emergency request” to get a stay of Judge Phillips ruling and had it granted.

    “One of the top reasons I support Barack Obama is because he was a keen-minded constitutional law professor, and has a healthy respect for the institutional framework of our government. While campaigning he stated his opposition to being another president who grabs power for himself while resisting oversight from Congress and the courts. ”

    So Obama is now ordering due process-free assassination of US citizens and demanding no oversight and working to resist oversight of the NSA’s wiretapping.

    “the Obama Administration continued the government’s half-decade-long battle to ensure that no judge ever rules on the legality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless dragnet surveillance program”

    “The Obama administration urged a federal judge early Saturday to dismiss a lawsuit over its targeting of a U.S. citizen for killing overseas, saying that the case would reveal state secrets. ”

    You’ve got that picture on the right of the Constitution being torn in half yet you seem to avoid commenting on how Obama is doing just that.


    You’re an articulate writer and thoughtful person. Do you still feel Obama has nothing to be ashamed of? Would you want to stand on a podium next to him now that he’s taken steps to keep DADT in place? Do you feel any outrage at any of Obama’s policies? When you wrote about Obama asking for a stay of the DADT ruling, all you could muster was: “This is just another, in a rather long list of reasons, why there is little energy for the liberals to go to the polls in November.” Where was the headline about Obama betraying gay military service members that was good enough for the Supreme Court?

    I hope you’ll write something more substantive on the ways Obama has veered away from his campaign platform and stop, what I perceive as, making excuses for him.

    1. Skip,

      Points well made. I am glad you call me out and hold me accountable.

      In my defense…and I do not want to be too defensive as I am not gleeful over the turn of events on these matters….but I try to hit the items that are on the front burner on any given day. Since DADT has beem bubbling there are many posts about that topic. And since a Gitmo solution has been held hostage by Congress, and very little movement is taking place, it gets less coverage. Be that right or wrong, it is just a fact.

      Now to guts of the issues you raise.

      I did give President Obama a bit of a pass at the start of his term concerning DADT. And ot some extent still do. Given the wide raft of concerns I stated somewhere on CP that it was more important to get the stimulas passed without adding a highly charged issue like DADT into the mix. That was a judgement call on my reading of history and how best to use the political muscle of a new President.

      In hindsight, I still think that was the proper way to see it.

      No one, including the President, wanted his administration to be forced to defend publicly the constitutionality of a law he had long opposed.

      That is one reason I have given him personally a pass at times on this blog regarding DADT. I know he opposes it. How best to get rid of it for me would be to take to the Rose Garden and blast it and take the heat. But I have never been concerned about winning another election or making other policies work with those I might tick off in the process of setting folks straight over DADT.

      So I have given him a pass at times on this matter.

      I was very upset when we did not get a public option in health care and think Obama was partly to blame. That he let Congress start the process and have full control of it was a choice to seperate the way things were handled with that from the Clinton years. History will debate that tactic for many years.

      In the stimulas bill I would have added, and Obama rejected, money for school construction coast to coast.

      I have challenged Obama on the tax cut extension. I do not want any of them extended.

      Finally, would I stand with Obama? YES! And proudly.

      I still feel the issues we face be they energy, climate change, better relations with the world, economy, placement of judges, etc are so vital that I would stand with him. I know him to be smart and caring.

      There are no perfect situations in government. No perfect leaders.

      No perfect bloggers, either.

      Still I am glad you call me out and hold me accountable.

      1. Skip

        Hi Mr. H – I’ll try to keep my reply to a minimum here…

        I think the big difference between you and I is that you pledge your fealty to Obama simply by virtue of him being president and I don’t. You talk about his opposition to DADT, about him being smart and caring. So what? His actions speak louder than words. He moved to reinstate DADT. He has moved to keep himself unaccountable for due process-free assassinations of US citizens and warrantless wiretapping.

        You’re surely right that there are no perfect leaders, etc. And I think this should be kept in mind when evaluating members of government, bloggers, or whomever. But at some point imperfection stops being an excuse for behavior. We are all imperfect and our imperfections can explain the why of some things, perhaps. But, when you’re arguably the most powerful person on Earth and whose actions affect, not just those in close proximity, but potentially everyone on the planet, you should get no free passes and be subjected to a constant stream of intense scrutiny. Praise where warranted, criticism where it is warranted.

        Have a good day – Skip

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