Meet the 'Know-Betters,' America's Not-So-Secret Political Party Squeezing the Life Out of You

The other day, I was accidentally listening to Bill O’Reilly talking about the danger to kids of marijuana combined with smart phones. The people talking with him had difficulty even figuring out the connection, but Bill is one of the most aggressive Know-Betters, at least on the purported right, and he’s been on a marijuana crusade for a good long time. When presented with any counter-argument, he basically shouts down his opponent, saying it’s just “common sense.”

Now, we’ve had legal marijuana in Colorado for at least a couple of years, and civilization hasn’t collapsed. The biggest result right now is that housing prices in Colorado are booming, at least in part because -- according to real estate sources here -- between 60,000 and 100,000 thousand people a year are moving to Colorado where they can do dope as they damn well please. But Bill O’Reilly Knows Better, and we Coloradans must be forced to do what we’re told.

You may have spotted some of these Know-Betters in your town. They know that women are always happier as stay-at-home moms, that someone has to fix what kids eat at lunch, and that the EPA should have control of every body of water larger than a spilled glass.

I keep finding myself coming back to a passage from Thomas Jefferson that I put up on Tatler a long while ago. Here’s Jefferson:

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.”

-- Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Henry Lee, 1824)

All the terms Jefferson proposes have been attached to groups by now, usually inconsistently. But I think Jefferson has a point: there are always people who think they Know Better, and they are therefore entitled to rule the rest of us. Call them Monarchists, perhaps.

It seems to me the essential political need of our time is identifying the Know-Betters, the Monarchists, for who they are, and stopping them.