Elite vs. Elitist

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    Sep 05, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    It annoys me a bit, altho I am not sure that etymologically I stand on firm ground, when our political discourse accuses someone of being an elitist.

    It appears that as the word elitist is being used, it is meant to mean that the person is one of the elite.

    But to me, the word elitist sounds more like it should mean someone who believes in some virtue of the elite or the elite class. Something along the lines that members of the elite are inherently better than the rest and should be accorded privileges by virtue of being elite.

    Whereas an elite would be someone of the elite class. So the correct way to refer to him or her would be "He is an elite" or "She is one of the elite."
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    Sep 05, 2008 2:27 PM GMT
    That is the way I interpret it as well. And by the way I don't necessarily think being called an "elitist" is always a bad thing. I have no problems saying that Beethoven had more musical talent then Britney Spears or 50 Cent. Some people would think I was an elitist or a snob for thinking such a thing (even though I have all three on my IPod).

    For some reason people want their politicians to be just like them, someone they can relate to. Someone who is "in touch with the common man" or some such hogwash. I always look for someone with specific skills such as leadership, intelligence, the ability to negotiate, a ruthless streak. You would not accept mediocrity in a neurosurgeon or an airline pilot, why in a political leader?
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    Sep 05, 2008 2:42 PM GMT
    SurrealLife saidThat is the way I interpret it as well. And by the way I don't necessarily think being called an "elitist" is always a bad thing. I have no problems saying that Beethoven had more musical talent then Britney Spears or 50 Cent. Some people would think I was an elitist or a snob for thinking such a thing (even though I have all three on my IPod).

    For some reason people want their politicians to be just like them, someone they can relate to. Someone who is "in touch with the common man" or some such hogwash. I always look for someone with specific skills such as leadership, intelligence, the ability to negotiate, a ruthless streak. You would not accept mediocrity in a neurosurgeon or an airline pilot, why in a political leader?


    I'll never understand that mindset. If someone is going to become the most powerful leader in the world, then they should be a lot smarter than the average guy. I find it incredibly narcissistic that someone wants to see him/herself in the president when he/she probably won't come into close and casual contact with him.
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    Sep 05, 2008 2:57 PM GMT
    I wish some historian would write a book on this phenomenon of how our politicians have to aspire to being the most common of rubes for the people.

    Like, we try to educate the hell out of ourselves, but for some reason we dont want our leaders to be educated. They have to be a bunch of dissembling bumpkins.

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    Sep 05, 2008 3:03 PM GMT
    Caslon6000 saidI wish some historian would write a book on this phenomenon of how our politicians have to aspire to being the most common of rubes for the people.

    Like, we try to educate the hell out of ourselves, but for some reason we dont want our leaders to be educated. They have to be a bunch of dissembling bumpkins.



    I think Caslon that may be more of a recent American phenomenon. Winston Churchill, Pierre Trudeau, Charles De Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, Golda Meir, some remarkable leaders from different countries who were definitely not ordinary, and were from every point in the political spectrum. BTW I don't necessarily agree with the above leaders political views or actions, but they definitely were strong leaders.
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    Sep 05, 2008 3:33 PM GMT
    SurrealLife said
    Caslon6000 saidI wish some historian would write a book on this phenomenon of how our politicians have to aspire to being the most common of rubes for the people.

    Like, we try to educate the hell out of ourselves, but for some reason we dont want our leaders to be educated. They have to be a bunch of dissembling bumpkins.



    I think Caslon that may be more of a recent American phenomenon. Winston Churchill, Pierre Trudeau, Charles De Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, Golda Meir, some remarkable leaders from different countries who were definitely not ordinary, and were from every point in the political spectrum. BTW I don't necessarily agree with the above leaders political views or actions, but they definitely were strong leaders.

    There is some historical depth to this phenomenon in America...like, Abraham Lincoln being born in a log cabin and a rail spliter.

    Andrew Jackson was big on being a "man of the people."

    Thomas Jefferson would have none of the pomp and pagentry of Washington and Adams, but I am not sure that that is the same thing.

    I know that in the 18th century, there was the concept of growing into the kind of person you wanted to be. They did not have the ideal of "just be yourself." For example, Washington as a boy copied out a list of characteristics of a gentleman*. And then spent his life trying to behave accordingly....to make those characteristics apart of his being.

    The state in which you were when you dropped out of your mother was not considered the epitome of your development. You strove thruout life to inculcate virtues to improve yourself.

    *Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation