I’m trying to figure out how (and when) I became an “elitist.” In the aftermath of the election, I keep hearing people throwing out that label in their rush to point out that NeverTrumpers received their comeuppance on Tuesday. All those in the NeverTrump camp are now elitists, apparently. Back in the day that term was reserved for coastal intellectuals who didn’t understand those in the flyover states, but increasingly, the invective is flung at anyone who hasn’t yet hopped on the Trump Train.
Which is apparently how I came to be a member of this exclusive club.
It’s hilarious to me that this simple girl from rural Wayne County, Ohio, who spent nearly half her life as a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler, got a magical golden ticket to the upper echelons of America. When did it happen? I’m not sure. If my ELITE membership card arrived in the mail, it probably got chucked into the trash, along with those annoying AARP cards they keep sending me. Is there some website where I can check my ELITE status? Can I type my name and address in to confirm my membership, so that when people sneer that the “elites” are to blame for everything that’s wrong with the country I can proudly point to my status and show them the “moral preening” dance I’ve been working so hard on? And when the guy I went to high school with—the one who grew up in the same blue-collar town I did—calls me an elitist on Facebook, can I flash my elitist card at him and declare that it’s absolutely TRUE—because the Internet has spoken?
In all seriousness, the problem I have with this label being thrown about so casually is that it dumps everyone who opposed Trump into the “enemies of Trump and the people” box. Regardless of your level of education, income level, address, or conservative credentials, if you didn’t support Trump—and if you now refuse to express your fawning approval of the president-elect—you’re a despised elitist who must be excised from this new nationalist populist party, lest your traitorous ways subvert the will of the people.
Never mind that NeverTrumpers come from all walks of life—representing every demographic, educational, and geographic group—and that many of them have been fighting the status quo in Washington for years, believing that systemic changes are needed in the GOP. And we’ll pretend we didn’t notice that many of those who are denouncing the “elitists” write from their perches in swanky offices on the coasts or shout from their million-dollar studios in New York. There are enemies to be vanquished (Republican enemies, mind you) and if labeling every last redneck in middle America who criticizes Trump a coastal or intellectual elitist gets the job done, so be it.
You don’t have to be an actual elitist to see that continued marginalization of those who were/are NeverTrump is going to lead to a serious third-party effort that will irreparably damage the GOP, potentially relegating it to the fate of the Whigs. If these oracles of “the people” think that can’t happen, they need to take a look in the rearview mirror of this election cycle and note how everything just changed. Never say never after November 8, 2016.
While we wait to see what happens, I’m adding “elitist” to my LinkedIn profile and asking for a raise.