A striking feature of American liberal democracy is the great gap between the reality of the political class and the people. The Cloud People are not just floating above the Dirt People, living different lives, like aristocrats of old. They no longer have a clear vision of the Dirt People below them. Instead, they conceive of the people over whom they rule based on inputs from the managerial class. To the political class, the general public is an abstraction, not a physical reality.
One example of this is in how the political class understands hierarchy. Every Washington politician and appointee lives in a world where hierarchy is well understood and respected. The appointed class have an array of titles that indicate their position in the hierarchy. Elected officials, of course, have their office and their committee assignments, along with their seniority. This is a world every one of them inherited when they entered politics. It is how it has always been.
In this world, a senator tells his staff to do something and he just assumes they will do it, assuming it can be done. If it cannot be done, then he is going to have them find out why it cannot be done and report back to him. An appointee works the same way within the bureaucracy. They have a staff, usually of appointees, and that staff carries out the orders of the director or secretary. Even though nothing of public good is done in Washington, the petty tasks are carried out with precision.
In this regard, the political class is a petty aristocracy. Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, commands absolute loyalty from his staff. Not only does his staff do what they are told, they faithfully keep his secrets. He has been in the Imperial Capital for a quarter century, without a hint of scandal, despite the obvious. Congress operates a private slush fund to settle sexual harassment claims. Over 260 claims have been paid, without a word about the details. That’s loyalty.
Scan the biographies of the political class and the thing you will be hard pressed to find is anything resembling real world experience. Few have ever worked in the dreaded private sector. Those that have, worked in the law or maybe finance. These careers were just alternative paths to the place they wanted to be all along. There are no sons of the soil in Washington. The exception is President Trump, which is why he is hated by the entire political class. He is not one of them.
If any of these people had spent time in the world of the Dirt People, they would know that the reality of the petty aristocracy is nothing like reality. In the dreaded private sector, a manager at any level must be conscious of his subordinates. If that manager is going to make his bosses happy, he has to keep his people happy. Otherwise, they will not do what he asks and they will undermine his authority. This is the reason every middle manager sounds like a psychotherapist.
In the military, every officer is trained to know this. There is a strict hierarchy and ethos that says you respect the rank, not the man. Humans are human, so that theory gives way to the reality that men follow men. A good officer is one who commands the respect of his men. Bad officers think they can just issue orders and they will be carried out, no matter how stupid or ridiculous. The officer who acts like a petty aristocrat can find himself with a live grenade in his bunk.
Everywhere in the dreaded private sector, hierarchy relies about a dynamic that is not all that different from a pirate ship. Everyone understands that someone has to be in charge and that there has to be order. The question as to who is in charge and who gives the orders, however, is not written in stone. You earn your position and you keep earning it in the execution of your duties. Unlike in Washington, failure has consequences and people get fired and demoted.
This great gap between the Cloud People and the Dirt People in the nature of human organization and hierarchy is the great source of friction. We see that with the response to the Covid virus. The petty tyrants in the lowest level of the petty aristocracy just assumed the rest of us would happily follow their orders. The striking feature of this pandemic is how the political class is resentful that the public has not celebrated them in song and story for their heroism during these times.
The ruling class sees no danger in their social engineering schemes, because everyone they know thinks they are great ideas. Spend time in the Imperial Capital and it is like visiting a foreign planet. They live in a world that is divorced from the reality of the human condition. It has evolved into something closer to a college campus, where good times or bad, it is always the best of times. It is why critic race theory sounds like a grand idea to them. All of their ideas are grand ideas.
For those old enough to remember, there is a Ceausescu’s last speech quality to what we hear from our political elites and their organs. The gap between us and them has reached such a point it is impossible for us to think of them as us. This reality is slowly creeping into the minds of the dirty people like the fog. The Cloud People, however, remain locked in their old mode of thought. Nancy Pelosi truly thinks she is a beloved and respected figure to the Dirt People.
In such situations, there is always a moment when the people suddenly realize that they are not alone in their thoughts about us and them. That is what happened during Ceausescu’s last speech. The people suddenly realized that everyone else had the same thoughts about their ruler. On that day, that reality was made clear to Ceausescu’s as he gave his speech. The next day he fled the capital and a few days later he was tried and executed.
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