Entrance into the pundit class is highly restricted. It requires having the right credentials and knowing the right words. To get those, you have to spend your early life weaving through a series of ever more selective institutions where you learn how to speak and, more importantly, what you can speak about.
Getting into these institutions isn’t easy, unless you happen to be born into the right family. Then it is as easy as falling out of bed. For almost everyone else, it requires an early and intense self-dedication to a narrow goal, borrowed money, and lots and lots of luck.
Making matters worse, the pundit class emerges from their weird and narrow pipeline into an isolated bubble. They are physically cut off from the majority of Americans who they claim to care about and speak for.
They stick tightly within their clique, spending most of their time sequestered in their apartments, homes, and offices, and every now and then shuffling between a few select buildings in a few select neighborhoods in a few select cities, where they talk with people just like themselves, nodding to each other about their shared and very correct opinions, while drinking and eating the latest bespoke whatever.
They rarely have to deal with the unheards, beyond when they need their food delivered, or to be protected from physical harm, or chauffeured from place to place. Consequently, their views about what America thinks, and should think, have all the insight of a graduate school seminar filled with dreary facts, numbers, and graphs; because that is their lifeline to the rest of America–numbers in all their various forms, but mostly in statistics and polls. The fake open-mindedness of “my Uber driver told me…” only goes to show they have little else to grab onto.
* * *
This cloistered pundit class is not only inept but also dangerous, because it is intertwined with the political class who write the rules everyone else has to live with. The people who keep our country going, who grow, harvest, and process our food, fight our wars, police our streets, care for our children, clean our offices, keep our lights on, build our homes, and deliver our stuff. (Oddly, the people making the rules don’t feel a strong obligation to follow them.)
For a democracy to survive, it needs to hear all voices, no matter how uncomfortable. Otherwise, the majority’s frustration will grow and grow until it turns into an angry, reckless, and destabilizing force. Read more»
Chris Arcade | The Edgerton Essays | August 19, 2021
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If you want to see and speak with some of the people he’s talking about, take a road trip. Stay off the expressways, though. Stick to the secondary highways that go through small towns, places where the population may have reached a peak in the 60’s, but has declined to 1940’s levels over the past 40-50 years. These are the people that Trump’s 2016 campaign tapped into and, like him or hate him as a person or as a (groan) politician, he heard their voices. Same thing might have happened in 2020 had some of the goings-on been different.