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(26,545 posts)
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 10:40 PM Sep 2018

"Elite" the insult, a word that now means its opposite

Calling Democrats "out-of-touch liberal elites" really annoys me. Like "establishment," "elites" has become meaningless. I came across a short article from 2010, "'Elite the insult," in the Economist (Obama's election must've revived the popularity of "elite," and you can't turn around without bumping into "liberal elites" these days). Can't they find some new words to change the meaning of and mindlessly repeat over and over for the next election cycle? Political insults used to be quite creative, like the word "mugwump."

"Bleeding heart liberal" used to be a common insult for Democrats. Seems like a compliment today. Things became more and more hateful and nasty until it seemed politics wasn't politics any more but a religious war. I didn't care for the way G.W. Bush used the word "evil," but at least it was directed toward people or countries that were accused of terrorism and the like. When the Democratic candidate in the last election was regularly referred to as evil, that crosses the line of civilized behavior.

I saw a comment somewhere online that I thought was so true, referring to the nasty and hateful: "Their version of empathy is to put yourself in the position of the Other as if the Other were a giant asshole too."

From the article:

"What's the worst thing you can call someone in American politics today? If you read the papers or watch cable news on the wrong day, you just might think it's 'elite.' My 1973 OED describes 'elite' (third sense) as the choice part or flower (of society or any body of persons). If redacted today, the OED might include an obsolescent flag on that 'choice part or flower' definition, and a new sense should be added, 'one's out-of-touch political opponents.' 'Anyone with whom one disagrees, and who is perceived to have an unjustifiably large role in society or politics.'

"Elite's meaning has become remarkably plastic, and in politics in particular, it is a fighting word. How did that happen? ... First, the counterculture attacked the old elites (the titans of industry, the Washington class, the military brass) as out of touch, making authenticity, not authority, the greatest value one can aspire to. Then the counterculture overreached, Nixon found his 'silent majority,' and railed against his own bugbear elites: the now familiar culprits in academia, Hollywood and the press. Both left and right seek the 'real' and shun the 'elites,' and a word has come to mean its opposite; the worst, most harmful class of society, not the 'choicest part or flower.' A strange trip for a word, but these things happen."


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"Elite" the insult, a word that now means its opposite (Original Post) betsuni Sep 2018 OP
I guess it didn't help when I got a latte and walked with it past tr&@p tower... Lucky Luciano Sep 2018 #1
Was it Starbucks? betsuni Sep 2018 #2
It was Starbucks actually... Lucky Luciano Sep 2018 #3
They assumed your latte was made with soy milk. betsuni Sep 2018 #4
LOL you're right. I forgot that is a thing with those people! Lucky Luciano Sep 2018 #5
I think they first made fun of Obama being elite was when he mentioned he preferred arugula. Frustratedlady Sep 2018 #6
Oh, that's right, I forgot about the arugula. betsuni Sep 2018 #7
Don't forget the Grey Poupon! smirkymonkey Sep 2018 #17
A nice arugula salad with a Grey Poupon mustard vinaigrette. Elitist. betsuni Sep 2018 #19
BS called the Democratic Party "elite" when Cha Sep 2018 #8
Yes, he does all the time. The Democratic Party doesn't have a working class problem. betsuni Sep 2018 #9
Good point. Turns out "Identity Politics" is Cha Sep 2018 #10
"That nobody said ever." betsuni Sep 2018 #16
Democrats can and DO talk to the White working class and the rest of the working people. Caliman73 Sep 2018 #13
Oh, I have soooo noticed that. Mahalo, Cha Sep 2018 #14
Yes, Republicans block legislation and it always ends up Democrats' fault one way or another. betsuni Sep 2018 #15
There's a certain irony in political usage of the "elite" insult unblock Sep 2018 #11
Promote themselves as the elites, it is ironic. betsuni Sep 2018 #12
The insult I always liked was calling someone, "Einstein," to imply they're dumb TlalocW Sep 2018 #18
If you're worth hundreds of millions, and use a golden toilet seat Crunchy Frog Sep 2018 #20
older book. its called doublespeak. pansypoo53219 Sep 2018 #21

Lucky Luciano

(11,307 posts)
1. I guess it didn't help when I got a latte and walked with it past tr&@p tower...
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 10:48 PM
Sep 2018

...and some MAGAts were waving huge “Re-elect Tr&@p” flags...and I muttered “white trash” to them!


(26,545 posts)
2. Was it Starbucks?
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 11:03 PM
Sep 2018

I hope it wasn't from McDonalds, how embarrassing for an elitist (I buy coffee at McDonalds sometimes because I'm cheap -- don't tell anyone I'm a bad elitist).

Lucky Luciano

(11,307 posts)
3. It was Starbucks actually...
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 11:07 PM
Sep 2018

...would have been better if it was some indie coffee house latte that you might find near a university instead of corporate death latte!

They were caught off guard and yelled, back “yeah, next time use whole milk!” (Huh?)

Anyway, I kept walking as I had to get back up to the office 2 blocks away.


(16,254 posts)
6. I think they first made fun of Obama being elite was when he mentioned he preferred arugula.
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 11:21 PM
Sep 2018

OMG, arugula. How exotic and must be expensive if he likes it.

Obama was much too smooth and carried himself well. They did admit he was an excellent speaker but, of course, he talked down to them because he used big words. They had to gig him some way. Then they continued to build on it.

Anyone with a college education became a joke and they didn't appreciate being corrected with their spelling or grammar. Somehow, they began attacking liberals. Anyone know why they despise them so much?

You almost have to follow their groups to make any sense out of their thought process, but it basically comes down to if people are educated and politically correct, they must be a Democrat...liberal...elite.


(300,337 posts)
8. BS called the Democratic Party "elite" when
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 11:41 PM
Sep 2018

he was on tv November 16, 2016. When so many people were hurting from the stolen election(not knowing at the time).

Bernie Sanders 'deeply humiliated' Democrats lost white working-class voters


Washington (CNN) — Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed his disappointment Monday with Hillary Clinton's failure to secure the support of white working-class voters in last week's presidential election.

Donald Trump "very effectively" tapped into "the anger and angst and pain that many working class people are feeling," the Vermont independent senator who challenged Clinton in the Democratic primary said on "CBS This Morning."

"I think that there needs to be a profound change in the way the Democratic Party does business," Sanders said. "It is not good enough to have a liberal elite. I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to where I came from."


Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds


White working-class economic anxiety is a zombie idea that needs to die


The Dangerous Myth That Hillary Clinton Ignored the Working Class


Good article, betsuni.. Thank You !

BS didn't know he was really calling us ".. the choice part or flower (of society or any body of persons)." Instead of the "plastic elite."


(26,545 posts)
9. Yes, he does all the time. The Democratic Party doesn't have a working class problem.
Thu Sep 13, 2018, 11:57 PM
Sep 2018

People with the lowest incomes voted for the Democrat, and Trump voters did not vote for him because of economic anxiety. Why anyone in politics wants to form a campaign trying to appeal to voters who don't exist ... I don't know.


(300,337 posts)
10. Good point. Turns out "Identity Politics" is
Fri Sep 14, 2018, 12:10 AM
Sep 2018

good for the heart and soul

Sanders slams identity politics as Democrats figure out their future

"“It’s not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry,” the Vermont independent senator and former Democratic presidential candidate said in a not-so-subtle rebuke to Hillary Clinton."


That nobody said ever.

The Democratic Party is going full steam ahead in spite of all the "slamming" and insults.


(11,767 posts)
13. Democrats can and DO talk to the White working class and the rest of the working people.
Fri Sep 14, 2018, 12:36 AM
Sep 2018

What we try not to do is coddle fantasy. The bottom line is that coal is a dirty fuel that is helping to make the environment difficult for human survival, we can't save your coal job, but we want to help you find a new job in a field that is sustainable. That requires training and may take awhile.

The problem is that Republicans come along and block legislation designed to implement the shift to renewable energy, to infrastructure spending, to retraining efforts to help Americans get future jobs, then they convince those same people that they have hurt, that it was the Democrats who did it by putting "regulations" on things.

Sanders was plain wrong about the attribution of the problem. To be sure, there are valid criticisms about the Democratic party, but oversimplification has been Bernie's Achilles Heel.


(53,106 posts)
11. There's a certain irony in political usage of the "elite" insult
Fri Sep 14, 2018, 12:10 AM
Sep 2018

In fact republicans use it to dismiss democrats and to therefore promote themselves as the elites.

They're the "real Americans" and we're not? That's actually a pretty elitist characterization of themselves.


(26,545 posts)
12. Promote themselves as the elites, it is ironic.
Fri Sep 14, 2018, 12:18 AM
Sep 2018

Or a millionaire accusing someone else of being wealthy and out-of-touch.

Crunchy Frog

(26,766 posts)
20. If you're worth hundreds of millions, and use a golden toilet seat
Fri Sep 14, 2018, 01:25 AM
Sep 2018

It means you're a salt of the Earth man of the people, while if you use the wrong kind of mustard on your burger, it means you're an intolerable elitist.

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