April 19, 2005


Taking Faith Seriously: Contempt for religion costs Democrats more than votes (Mike Gecan, April/May 2005, Boston Review)

What I experienced at Yale—and never forgot—was not just the haughtiness of the rich on the right (which I expected), but the contempt and superiority of the newly emerging elite on the left. Both groups tended to treat cafeteria workers like me, the Puerto Ricans who bused trays and washed dishes in the dining halls, and the blacks who cleaned the rooms and hallways as servants or worse. I expected the wealthy to act this way. I was surprised to hear many on the left, antiwar to the bone, talk about those who went to Vietnam, particularly the white working class, with utter disdain.

On the most basic level, the contempt of the progressive elite for ordinary people—for their faiths, their speech patterns, their clothes, their hobbies, their hopes, and their aspirations—has driven scores of millions of Americans out of the Democratic Party and into either the Republican Party or a no man’s land between the two. The willingness of many Republicans to simply show respect for the habits and interests of these mixed and moderate Americans has paid growing political dividends. The Republicans have understood that communicating respect is more important than offering programs or incentives. The Democrats have failed to realize that multiplying programs or policies designed to meet people’s needs is doomed to fail unless and until those people sense a fundamental level of recognition of who they are, not just what they need. The medium may not be the message. But a medium of respect and recognition is what makes the reception of the message possible.

The question, of course, is whether it's possible for the demoralized Left to be respectful to the moralist majority. The Right, after all, pays almost no price for its contempt of secularism and moral relativism. But the Left, which has made a fetish out of "toleration," is threatened to its core by the universalism of Judeo-Christianity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2005 8:10 AM

After a lifetime spent in and around the "selective" universities of the northeast, I can attest to the accuracy of the description above and it hasn't changed. If anything, positions have solidified into concrete.

The leftwing elites on the faculty and in the administration many of whom are the scions of oldest money in the land, disdain and detest the middle and working classes. They care only for the homeless, the wretches in the ghettoes and in third world countries over whose lives they can exercise control and who give them a powerful sense of purpose.

The mannerisms of these aristocrats and their hangers-on are not to be believed. There are many hilarious anecdotes about these clueless sycophants. Mercifully by the time these poor creatures finally realize they'd made fools of themselves, their tenure decisions come up and they're sent packing, disappointed surely, but perhaps a bit wiser all the same.

Wouldn't Tom Wolfe's take on all this be a wonderful read. I know where I'd summer should I have that book in my hands.

Posted by: erp at April 19, 2005 2:32 PM