Anyone need a chaser after our latest COTEB sailing? I have just the thing:
One of my hopes for the New Year would be for a substantial decline of the anti-intellectual fervor that has been dominant in our public discourse since the early 1980’s.
I am defining anti-intellectualism as blatant hostility toward intellectuals, along with the incessant attacks on science, education, and the arts. The anti intellectual critiques suggest that highly educated people are an isolated social group removed from the realities of Main Street.
Intellectualism should not mean that one must possesses a graduate degree in order to embrace it. It means we cannot allow oversimplification to trump responses to complex issues that require more than a sound bite.
It also means that our civic duty did not end on November 4, 2008. Our elected officials will treat us however we dictate. If rote, simplistic responses will suffice that is what we will get. But we should demand more because we deserve it.
And at least with Obama, if we demand more, we might just get it. He has, after all, not been afraid to surround himself with elitist bastards. Let the intellectuals rule and the fundies drool!
Cujo359 of Slobber and Spittle nominates Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom as an Honorary Elitist Bastard for his post “Average Joe can’t fix America’s pipes.”
Look. There is a reason we call “the average guy” average. Because he’s in the middle. Average. When you aim for the White House, to lead the free world, to hold the fate of the Earth in your hands, you shouldn’t aspire to average. And this election shouldn’t be about average.
Don’t get me wrong. Plumbers, when you need them, are more desirable than presidents. I, personally, would be underwater in my home if not for my plumber.
But in politics, we overdo the small picture because we get bored with the big picture. Our eyes glaze over when candidates talk policy. The devil is in the details, but we’re not interested in the devil. We’d rather watch, be entertained, be told a story.
This rather goes along with my belief that the person we elect should be extraordinary. I work with a lot of “average Americans.” I troubleshoot the phones of many “average Americans.” I spent many years of my life processing the orders of many small business owners. And I can tell you: the idea of choosing a president based on his “average guy” qualities scares me shitless.
We need far more than average when we place the fate of this country in someone’s hands.
Average has been fetishized to the point of absurdity. The assault on intellect, the demonization of knowledge, and the worship of the lowest common denominator has gotten frightening.
And that’s why we’re here, my swarthy crew. We know that aspiring to the mundane does nothing for humanity. Wasting away in the doldrums of the average gets us nowhere. Deliberately refusing to fill our sails with genius and sail toward brilliant achievement just because not everyone can get there is pathetically limiting. We should aspire. We should inspire.
Average is the backbone of any society. But it takes more than a backbone to run a civilization: it takes brains.
Huzzah to Mitch Albom for making that case so succinctly.