Democratic elitism is a myth


Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Virginia Suardi

Anti-elitism, the opposition to policies, attitudes, or practices that favor the “socially superior,” is no new concept. It was key in electing Donald Trump in 2016, as one of his core promises was to “drain the swamp” of Washington, referring to political corruption. The concept of anti-elitism is being used by a number of conservatives to paint liberals as out-of-touch. In this way, wealthy elites are trying to deceive American people into voting for policies that will reinforce classism. This claim is ridiculously and dangerously false, and must be addressed so that more of us will not be lured into their trap.

Anti-elitist movements are mostly led by the “common” people who view themselves as being trampled on by a small, well-off class of elite citizens who view themselves as superior. Traditionally, many anti-elitist movements have been helpful in fostering more fair practices in government and society.

To understand how and why Republicans use this tool to manipulate everyday Americans, the two parties’ platforms must first be defined and analyzed. Generally, the Republican Party stands for less government involvement, privatized markets and business, and leans more conservatively on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Alternately, the Democratic Party stands for more government involvement, more regulated markets and businesses, and leans more progressively on social issues. Individual members of the parties may sway alternately right or left on each issue, but these beliefs generally define each party’s platform.

It is undeniable that Republican-backed free-range capitalism with absolutely zero government regulation causes an extreme amount of exploitation of everyday people. These practices allow the wealthy few to make billions of dollars while squashing and neglecting the rights and dignity of the working class.

These effects are obvious through history, even as recently as the Great Recession of 2008, when the Bush administration thought their regulational cuts on the economy would sustain the housing market, causing its ultimate demise. In contrast, democratic policies, such as those created under Obama, helped lift the economy out of a deep pit and restore everyday Americans to financial security.

Republicans in Congress also aim to twist important social issues into elitist concerns. Unfortunately, climate change, which 97 percent of scientists believe is caused by human activity (Only 31 percent of Republicans believe human activity is causing climate change), has effectively been twisted by conservatives into a “liberal” and “elitist” issue. The fact that many Republicans continue to present climate change as a hoax is obviously due to their entanglements with big businesses that refuse to admit that their practices are ruining billions of lives and depleting the futures of young people.

Republicans also enforce elitist laws and policies by introducing repressive voter registration laws that are increasing in popularity in the South. A prime example is a North Carolina law from 2013, which requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls and shortens early voting to 10 days. Florida state senator Arthenia Joyner said that the law was “a premeditated design, to suppress the vote of African-Americans in this country.” The Republican Party has traditionally been less popular with minority voters, so it makes sense that some would try to suppress and diminish their votes and their fundamental rights. These policies are abominable and racist attempts to obstruct democracy and further emphasize the elitist tendencies of conservatives.

While politics are always inevitably corrupt to some extent on both sides of the aisle, it is crucial that Americans understand that fundamentally, Republican policies tend to benefit wealthy elites. We cannot allow ourselves to fall prey to the damaging and extremely hypocritical rhetoric that Republican politicians use to destabilize Democratic Party platforms.

We must combat these tactics tooth and nail. The more we sit in silence, the more we allow people to believe that left-leaning policies are elitist, the more money we put back into the pockets of country’s economic and political elites, the more working-class people suffer and the longer we are all kept in the dark about the true corruption in our government.