I’ll leave the debate about elitism in the presidential race to the drones and foot soldiers of the 2008 campaign, as well as the more articulate prognosticators on the 2008 election season (or is that too elite a wording?). Besides, so far, I’d say John Stewart probably said it best during the April 14 edition of The Daily Show when he reminded us the President of the United States of America is possibly the most elite position in the entire world (Hi, Yale grad, Skull & Bones member and son of a Bush; Hello Mr. Rhodes Scholar).
No, I’ll focus on a different hypocrisy among this deluge of hypocrisies surrounding these false accusations of elitism. Within Maureen Dowd’s New York Times op-ed on the subject she writes the following:
“Behind closed doors in San Francisco, elitism’s epicenter [Emphasis added], Barack Obama showed his elitism, attributing the emotional, spiritual and cultural values of working-class, “lunch pail” Pennsylvanians to economic woes.”
Who would have thought a Southern Californian like me would so readily stick up for San Francisco, but WHAT? A high-profile columnist and supporter of one of the most mainstream of mainstream politicians, writing for The New York Times, the “Old Gray Lady” of modern journalism, is calling San Francisco “elitism’s epicenter?” Penning a column for the pre-eminent publication in a city that claims to never sleep, dubs itself “The Big Apple,” acts as the arbiter of American fashion, the heart of global business, and acts as if it is the urban reincarnation of Jesus, Dowd still somehow believes San Francisco is the epicenter of elitism.
Certainly, San Francisco has been the epicenter of many things, and there is a degree of holier-than-thou snobbery in the city’s liberalism, but anyone who knows the city knows it does not deserve the elitism crown a fraction as much as New York. Indeed, the city’s success has much to do with its storied tolerance. It is far easier to live and let live, be and let be in San Francisco (and throughout California) than anywhere in the cliquish streets of Manhattan or hipster-choked Brooklyn. Yes, thousands have been priced out of living in San Francisco, but it is not unique in that phenomenon.
There are legitimate criticisms that could be made of San Francisco, as there are of any city, just like there are legitimate criticisms to be made of Barack Obama, just as there are for every candidate. Nevertheless, cheap shots about the city used to help discredit his comments simply serve to reinforce the misguided marginalization of the progressive efforts that have emerged from San Francisco and elsewhere in this state in the past half century as part of that tired old meme about weird, flaky, out-of-touch California.