I generally try to avoid repeating myself, but some things bear repeating. A couple of years ago I did a post by this title challenging the common belief that condescending attitudes by liberal elites towards average Americans were a contributing factor to Donald Trump’s election. My basic argument was that “average Americans” mostly don’t experience condescension from liberals in any direct way. Many of them nevertheless do think that elitist urban liberals condescend to them because that is what they are told, repeatedly, endlessly, by the right-wing media and by Republican politicians.
Meanwhile, many liberals are too ready to buy into the right-wing propaganda, I think because of a kind of guilt. Most of us have basically egalitarian values but we know that we are, in fact, better educated, better informed and more sophisticated than the average voter. It stands to reason that other people like ourselves are similarly conscious and are likely to manifest those attitudes of superiority in condescending behavior. That’s a reasonable assumption, but I don’t think it actually happens very much if at all. I ask you, dear readers (who I’m pretty sure are disproportionately well-educated, liberal and urban) have you condescended to any less-educated conservatives lately? I bet you haven’t. And, unless I’m tone-deaf, I don’t think offensively patronizing attitudes are conveyed by the reputedly liberal media. So, where and how is all this obnoxiously patronizing, condescending behavior taking place?
But I said all this before, at greater lenght–why am I repeating myself? This reprise was prompted initially by Joe Biden’s outrageous accusation that Elizabeth Warren was condescending and elitist. It’s outrageous because Democrats should not attack other Democrats by parroting Republican talking points. You just know that if Warren (Harvard professor, etc.) becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, Trump et. al. will milk the elitist charge for all they can get. And they’ll be able to say “Even Joe Biden said….”
But Biden is a politician whose campaign is sagging. I was more disappointed to see Tim Egan, a commentator whom I usually appreciate, echo the same trope about liberal elitism, citing Biden’s accusation approvingly. (Claiming neutrality, Egan didn’t acknowledge that Biden was talking about Warren, but he went on to inveigh against Warren.) According to Egan, middle-Americans feel insulted and dismissed by liberal Democrats. Typically, he gives no actual examples of liberals dismissing or patronizing or insulting other people–it seems to be an article of faith for him that that’s what liberals do. But the real problem is liberals like Egan who buy into and thus legitimate the Republican narrative. Somebody needs to tell Egan that he’s helping the bad guys by endorsing their propaganda.