Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Left-Elitists See Town Hall Citizens: 'Ill-Informed, Know Nothings Holding the Country Hostage With Total Irrationality'

Here's Ed Morrissey, writing during last year's election, on the long tradition of elite snobbery on the Democratic-left:
Elitism is a sense that the hoi polloi are simply incapable of governing themselves, let alone a nation, and that a small group of “experts” have to take control of everything they do. That goes far beyond mere matters of state. Elitists see people getting more obese and believe that government has to intervene to remove food choices from individuals, as one rather timely example, as in New York City. They believe that removing personal choices will keep people from making bad decisions, because they — in all their wisdom — will make the right choices for them.

This describes perfectly the policy direction of the Democratic Party ... That’s why the charge of elitism sticks so well to Democratic candidates in national elections. Their humble origins are immaterial to the concept of elitism. Candidates who want to grow the federal government in order to increase its nanny-state power are by definition elitists, because they believe individuals cannot make choices for themselves.
Well, we've been noticing the left's ubiquitous snobbery during the debates over health policy and the town hall meetings. Digby really captures it in her attempted takedown of Rush Limbaugh as a "gasbag":

If you wonder why people are so unbelievably misinformed in this country here's one good place to look ...

People listen to this kind of drivel all day long on talk radio and Fox News. Why should anyone be surprised that they think the government is going to be sending Death Agents to nursing homes to kill old people? ... They are being indoctrinated in idiocy by radical demagogues and for some reason everybody persists in thinking there is no harm in it.

These fatuous gasbags empower the teabaggers and swift boaters and I think we can see the result --- ill-informed, know nothings holding the country hostage with total irrationality.
Plus, here's Steve Benen on Representative Barney Frank's obnoxious response to a kooky LaRouche-Democrat attending his town hall:

There was no defensiveness, and no anger, just someone who knows what he's talking about making someone who doesn't look like a fool.

Matt Yglesias raised
a terrific point: "Voters don't have a great deal of knowledge about the issues, or a great deal of interest in acquiring knowledge about the issues. But they are human beings, equipped with our species' excellent ability to read the emotional states of other human beings. If they see a politician acting defensive about his 'side' in an argument, they conclude that this critics are probably on to something. If they see a politicians acting outraged and hitting back fearlessly, they're likely to conclude that he has nothing to apologize for."

Quite right. A low-information voter, with only a passing familiarity with current events, might catch an exchange like this one. Which of the two people in this clip -- the crazy person or Barney Frank -- comes across as credible?

I realize that Frank has the benefit of serving in a safe Democratic seat, in a highly-educated area. Vulnerable Democratic lawmakers may not feel comfortable openly ridiculing random lunatics who ask stupid questions like Frank did.

But the point is, reform advocates can show this kind of confidence and certainty that nonsensical beliefs are nonsensical beliefs.
It's not so much that the woman at the video was a lunatic or not (the fact that LaRouche voters are Democrats doesn't seem to bother leftists searching for something, anything, to help rescue Obama's falling fortures on socialized medicine). No, it's the totally condescending approach Democratic-lefitsts take to those of differing opinions. Benen's citing Matthew Yglesias, who I unveiled a couple of weeks ago as a "true revolutionary socialist expropriator."

Given the nature and stakes of the debate, I don't expect to convince my political opponents that they're elitist in the mold of Vladimir Lenin. Having said that, folks should at least keep an open mind in reading John Goodman's essay on the everyday citizens participating in the recent ObamaCare demonstrations, "
Explaining the Town-Hall Protests":
These are a very diverse group of people. Some of them are part of a 40,000-person network of former Obama supporters who are experiencing buyer's remorse. Others are part of various disease networks, including patients concerned about the future of cancer care. There are networks of senior citizens worried about cuts in Medicare and the possible closing of their private Medicare insurance plans. There are Christian conservatives worried about taxpayer-funded abortions and subsidies for euthanasia. And there are an enormous number of people who are simply concerned about their health care.

For the most part, these individuals are not funded or organized by anybody. They really are grass roots. Sure, there may be a few top-down "astroturf" groups and some special-interest groups that are secretly gleeful. But there is no way the kind of spontaneous outpouring we've witnessed could be bought or organized by anyone.

Why are they so angry? The reasons are manifold, but the single biggest reason is the arrogance of our elected officials in Washington. Think about it. For the past seven months a small group of politicians has been meeting behind-closed-doors with powerful special interests to decide whether you will be able to keep your current insurance, where you will be directed to get new insurance and at what price, what fines you and your employer will have to pay if you don't conform, and how they're going to get your doctor to change the way he or she practices medicine. In the process, they never asked you what you thought about anything. If you are not mad about this, odds are you don't understand the situation.

Remember, according to a Fox News poll conducted last month, 84% of Americans rate the quality of their insurance as "excellent" or "good." When they voted for Mr. Obama for president, they thought "universal care" meant helping some unfortunate Americans obtain insurance they cannot otherwise afford. Not once did candidate Obama say he was going to make changes that affected them and their health care. In fact, he promised the opposite.
Read the whole thing at the link.

And if leftists still aren't convinced, I'll simply recommend that folks read some of the latest polling results, for example, "
Faith in Obama Drops As Reform Fears Rise: Health-Care Effort Is Major Factor, Poll Finds." And it's not a bunch of "ill-informed, know-nothing" Limbaugh ditto-heads either. See Greg Sargent, "Major Factor In Obama’s WaPo Poll Slide: Drop Among Dems, Liberals." (Via Memeorandum.)