Friday, October 03, 2008

I guess I'm an elitist

elitist: someone who believes in rule by an elite group

elite: the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons

One thing that has really bugged me this election season has been the use of the word "elitist" as an epithet. . . . as though it's a bad thing to want to be governed by the best possible leaders. An elitist is not a bad thing to be, in my opinion.

I recently watched the movie Idiocracy ( for the first time. The premise of the movie is basically that 500 years in the future, America has been so "dumbed down" that an average man from our time is now considered to be smartest man alive.

The movie itself is mildly entertaining; I'm certainly glad I watched on TV at home for free, rather than paying to see it in the theatre. But what struck me about the movie as I was watching it was not its comic genius or great acting. What struck me was that I sometimes feel that our country is actually headed down the path the movie portrays.

Everywhere you look, it seems to have become more and more acceptable to be ill-informed and unintelligent. I recall reading with dismay a survey of Americans in the past year where one in four Americans read no books in the preceding year. NO books! In a year! Our president of the past eight years can't even speak English properly, routinely mispronouncing and misusing words and making up his own words.

I must be really out of touch with many of my fellow countrymen because I really can't grasp why being well-read, educated, and articulate is a bad thing. . . . particularly in someone we might choose to lead our nation and be our representative on the world stage. I don't care if a candidate is someone I can "relate to" or would want to "have a beer with." I care that s/he knows what's going on, both at home and abroad, and has good ideas about how to manage things.

Clearly I am in the minority here. And it's more than a little distressing. While I can surround myself with friends who share my views and feelings, it doesn't change the fact that I live in a country where many believe that electing "the best of the best" is a bad thing. . . . and even more frightening, are swayed by catch phrases, talking points, and other marketing ploys.