May 13, 2011

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Establishment Blues:

I don’t want to make this a habit, and I suspect he doesn’t either, but Paul Krugman and I are once again in (very) partial agreement. We both think the American elite has intellectually and morally lost its way, and we agree that the problems our country faces today have more to do with elite breakdown than popular stupidity. We locate the blame somewhat differently within that elite; Krugman splits the blame between George W. Bush and the economic policy makers of the Clinton/Obama administrations. I think the rot goes deeper and has spread out more widely. But the United States today — in both parties, in the corporate and business worlds, in academia and among the intelligentsia, in religion and in many other fields — does not have the strong and thoughtful leadership that we need.” . . .

The American people aren’t perfect yet and never will be — but by the standards that matter to the Establishment, this is the best prepared, most open minded and most socially liberal generation in history. Unsatisfactory as the American people may be from the standpoints of Georgetown and Manhattan, this is as good as it gets. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman could only dream of the kind of sophisticated and cosmopolitan understanding that folks in Peoria have now compared to the old days.

The American people are less prejudiced, more globally aware and more willing to meet other cultures and societies halfway than ever before. Minorities today are better protected in law and more fairly treated by the public than ever in our history. No previous generation has been as determined to give women a fair chance in life, or to attack the foul legacy of racism. The American people have never been as religiously tolerant as they are today, as concerned about the environment, or more willing to make sacrifices around the world to promote the peace and well being of humanity as a whole.

By contrast, we have never had an Establishment that was so ill-equipped to lead. It is the Establishment, not the people, that is falling down on the job.

Yes, we have the worst political class by far in American history.

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