February 29, 2012

MICKEY KAUS: David Brooks’ Sad Elite:

Those who buy the consensus elite position typically characterize dissenters as “extreme.” In the 60s, the bipartisan consensus elite position on welfare was basically ‘to hell with requiring work. Let’s just give everyone a guaranteed income.’ The extreme position was to oppose this as a “megadole,” as a nutty winger named Reagan put it. When the consensus position proved both wildly unpopular and unworkable, the Reagan position eventually became the new consensus, adopted by not only Republicans but Bill Clinton.

These days, on the budget, the consensus elite position is that you have to both cut government and raise taxes. The “extreme” position is to try cutting government first. Crazy, I know. On immigration, the consensus elite position is that we need to couple border enforcement with a simultaneous amnesty. The “extreme” position is to do the enforcement part first, while avoiding new magnets that might draw further illegal entries. Is that what Brooks means by “beyond the fringe”?

You get the point. Brooks doesn’t like the “heresy trial” that drove Rick Perry from the race merely for invoking the consensus position. But the only way for non-elites to convince elites that they are full of it is to beat them in elections when they invoke the consensus, no?

Elections are so plebeian. And worse, a plebe’s vote counts for just as much as a patrician’s.