23 Comments

  1. Elitist as you define it is a virtue.. ” being smart, well educated, worldly and cultured…Striving to achieving great success though hard work and dedication”. None of these qualities are trumpeted by President Obama but represent much of what he believes is wrong with our country. For example isn’t the risk taker, the entrepreneur, the one who creates capital and jobs, just as noble as the public worker who by Obama’s definition is engaged in a more noble task. Our President is not and elitist but a socialist (with fascist overtones; see Obamacare) who wants to fashion a ruling class over the “elitist” who you justifiably praise. Love your website but spare us Obama who would have us all dress in a uniform so as not to engender “class envy” as opposed to cultivating personal style as reward for achievement that “off the cuff” so wonderfully educates and promotes!

  2. ERF

    It goes back to the Jeffersonians branding Hamilton a monarchist elitist. Meanwhile, Hamilton pulled himself up from his bootstraps, fought gallantly in the Revolutionary War, was not landed, received no inheritance, owned no slaves and was an actual abolitionist, rather than just written as one in the history books like John Adams, and worked his whole life. Meanwhile, Jefferson never worked in his life. He owned slaves and took one as his mistress when she was only 13, inherited a huge estate, and frequently retired there to be a philosopher and conduct experiments. And, when he was the military Governor of Virginia abandoned the capitol and hid from the invading English.

    Yet, due to his earlier death Jefferson won the propaganda game and Hamilton was the elitist among these two bitter rivals. It’s been a slur that continues to plague American politics. Pretend that your elite background doesn’t exist and you are the man of the people before your opponent can brand you as the elitist and you win.

  3. James – Thanks very much for the impassioned retort – and the very kind words about OTC. While I do not accept the whole “Obama-as-fascist” bit even for a minute (By Merriam-Webster’s definition he a long shot at best), I stand by using him a foil for the absurd claim that to be brainy and perhaps a bit short on the people skills makes one an indifferent (socialist, of course) snob.

    To your other point, as far as I’m concerned, nobility of effort, position, craft or skill is not exclusive to anyone. As my father taught me, and I hope to instill in my son, anyone who works for a living deserves my respect. Whether the garbage man or a brain surgeon, a philosopher or the president, it doesn’t matter. Elitism is not a virtue to me, but it’s also not a character flaw. Being a jerk is a character flaw.

  4. ERF – Thank you very much for the historical perspective. I’ve lived in D.C. for 15 years and have seen that scenario play out over and over again. Your last line should be in a textbook.

  5. AEV

    Anyone who claims our current President/administration is “socialist” is clearly under-educated and therefore – as frequently framed by the modern GOP – certainly not an elitist. The irony – and short memories – of such dribble is stifling.

    Interesting post – though, I can’t get behind a “Ralph Lauren” branded wristwatch (as you have pictured here). Watches, like fine shoes and suits, should be purchased from brands with history and tradition in the manufacturing of the product – not from a fashion conglomerate shamelessly ‘private labeling’ other people’s watches/items as their own and selling them at a mark up. To wear a RL watch is to scream brand and quality/craftsmanship ignorance….Just my two cents.

  6. Greg D

    Obama’s is nothing more than an idealist, coat-tail rider who has been “given” a path his whole life. Sure, he’s smart, as smart as a fox.

  7. Vern Trotter

    Up until now, I have enjoyed this site. Will you please spare us Obama, John Kerry and the rest of their ilk?

    All the best!

  8. Vern – John Kerry? When did I mention John Kerry, the Vineyard Vines post? I believe that was a passing reference to the company’s lucrative inroads into the political clothing market.

    I do find it interesting that none of the folks complaining about about references to Obama also complained about the section on former president Bush. Remember, we’re based in DC – this stuff will occasionally creep in every year or two…or four.

  9. I get it…Obama’s either the best thing since sliced bread or a socialist coat-tailer.

    While the partisan rants on both sides on the sartorial isle are entertaining, how about some thoughts on the role of “elites” in the world today? That’s the main point of this post after all. And I’m not necessarily talking about political elites – business and finance, technology and education, design and retail.

    Once upon a time, society admired and even revered smart, urbane and polished leaders in all sorts of fields – not just politics. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment at having achieved a certain level of refinement and taste.

    Now, it’s almost a sign of shame to be “that” kind of guy. I’m not talking class warfare here, just a shifting of perception. Interestingly, the dominant Ivy League styles of today speak to that kind of person, but the substance behind the image is almost derided and devalued.

    Thoughts?

  10. AEV

    @Greg D and others – so, President Obama – who grew up lower middle class, used scholarships to attend/afford college, self-funded all his early political campaigns, served in the IL state government and the US Senate, etc. – is a socialist “coat tail rider”, but our previous leader, Mr. Bush, who, despite being handed every possible advantage his entire life (huge family fortune, elite prep schools, ivy league college education(s), early employment at family businesses, long lists of political connections, and so on), failed at nearly every venture he pursued, is some sort of model leader who represents our nation’s ideal values?

    Be Republican (whatever that means these days), debate policies intelligently; fine. But don’t be ignorant and borderline dishonest about peoples’ background and ideologies. While it may make for fun bar talk with your buddies, such foolishness actually weakens the GOP’s national standing and reputation.

  11. Vern Trotter

    I meant no offense; what I tried poorly to convey was that if you use political figures to illustrate your point, the discussion becomes polarized as it did.

    You have a very good blog and please keep up the fine work.

  12. Jim Culbert

    I believe that being born into money is not in and of itself a negative virtue and does not alone embody the negative connotation of elitism. There are, after all various definitions of this term. Its what is done with those funds that determines legitimacy. If over time a family fortune is accumulated in good form and honesty then by all means it should be received with open arms by the beneficiaries who in turn must be as vigilant as their forbearer’s in respecting the integrity of said fortune. If however a fortune is acquired in part or in its entirety by exploration, dishonesty, or malice toward your fellow man then using this money as a means to fund an “elitist” life style is not, in the standard definition, a virtue.

  13. You claim this is a non-political site, and yet you bend over backwards to kiss Obama’s backside.

    I will concede, in some quarters Obama might be considered the “elite” simply by virtue of his skin colour and brand name schooling, at least to certain (shallow) segments of the population. I certainly have encountered white liberals who think this way. White liberals in this country find any excuse to elevate non-Whites to positions of prominence, regardless of worth, and they waste no time in deriding fellow White Americans as “rednecks,” “trailer trash,” etc.

    It is the height of irony to watch white liberals pose as cultured, intelligent, Ivy League-educated “elitists”–while at the same time championing every sort of egalitarian nonsense, from the idea of “racial equality” to feminism to animal rights! The double-standards are blatant.

    Elitism has little to do with education, brand name clothing, or money. It is about character. Elitism is a state of mind, a spiritual quality.

  14. Will

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog and I appreciate your taking up the gauntlet for elitism. Fundamentally, it seems elitism is equated with snobbery while, to my mind, a snob is an elitist with bad manners. Elitism, in essence, is to apply discernment and to choose in the full knowledge that some choices/things/values are superior to others. What gives elitism a bad name is that, rather than pushing many people to aspire and enjoy the fruits of achievement, it often causes people to feel inadequate and uncomfortable about their own choices.

    For those who are interested, and if it is still in print, there is an excellent 1994 book “In Defense of Elitism” by William A. Henry III, a two-time Pulitzer winner and culture critic for Time Magazine.

  15. E. Read

    OTC-I love this post. Admittedly I just discovered your blog and have quickly become a big fan. I agree with your point. There is a strange dichotomy regarding elitism. As an example, I earned my M.A. from Columbia Univ.–yet I am very careful how I share that information. On the one hand I am very proud of my achievement, but I fear sharing that information can be misconstrued as expressing some kind of “privileged elitism” (the pejorative connotation as mentioned in your blog).

  16. poloist12

    LagunEvermore the racist of the group(s). Why is it that you always have to turn to race?

    I will speak to each of your points.

    “You claim this is a non-political site, and yet you bend over backwards to kiss Obama’s backside”

    Agreed to a point, I say to a point because I do believe that OTC used OB in this story to prove a point. I can’t be certain, but I believe that he says that he is elite because he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. A point that I have made about others in other post, namely Wasp101. While the term WASP can only connote someone of Anglo Saxon origin, I can respect someone who is not of Anglo Saxon decent who holds the same attributes. They are not a WASP no, but have worked hard and live by some of, if not most of the same standards. Moving on to my point.

    “I will concede, in some quarters Obama might be considered the “elite” simply by virtue of his skin colour and brand name schooling, at least to certain (shallow) segments of the population. I certainly have encountered white liberals who think this way. White liberals in this country find any excuse to elevate non-Whites to positions of prominence, regardless of worth, and they waste no time in deriding fellow White Americans as “rednecks,” “trailer trash,” etc.”

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. So there are no White folks in this country that are Rednecks? Please, in my neck of the woods that is a badge of honor, just as those in this post feel that they are elite don’t feel that they should drop this from their persona. Hell I’m and Afro-Southerner who is called a redneck all the time and take no offence. Buy you implying that there’s any shame in that shows just how “out of touch” you are with “real” America, where is it that you are from anyhow?

    “Elitism has little to do with education, brand name clothing, or money. It is about character. Elitism is a state of mind, a spiritual quality.”

    You forgot one thing in your last, race. More and more in this country people of all faiths and races are becoming, elite.

    In closing, it’s time that all American’s wake up and get past the BS of racism. We ALL need to work together especially in the current times with our current POTUS. Be it that you are an Elitist, or Redneck, or ghetto fabulous. Let us not judge those by the color of their skin. Someone who would spell the word “Colour” Speaks volumes that they are not of this country and cannot appreciate its history and heritage. The spelling is British, and if that is the case I can see why they would think that a “Black man” no matter his education could be an elite. No, no, it has to be that he’s black that makes him elite. Never mind the vote, his education, etc. You sir, just stopped short of using the “N” word, something I’ve seen you do before, you’re pretty good at that. Others may not see past your dribble, but I sure can, and you smack of it as usual.
    a Beach Fogey;

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