Michael Moore explained and justified Michiganders not voting for Clinton or any Presidential candidate. His perspective focused on the condition of the working class, is echoed by Michigan Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell who’s stated Clinton’s campaign missed the clues of Trump’s victory. In short they both present an everyman working Joe who is just scraping by and trying to survive but the government doesn’t work for them. They are probably right. However, the explanation doesn’t do much in defense of the intelligence of their decision or the logic of pursuing that line of reasoning in the long run. Not only because it is just the Rust Belt Michiganders that aren’t getting by with their low-paying jobs, New Yorkers that overwhelming supported Clinton also are overworked and underpaid, as the New York Times articles has covered. I’m more concerned with outcome of the the anti-elitist attitude that permeates much of Republican American, and implicitly Mr. Moore’s beleaguered Michigander voters.
Here’s the hypothetical thought process with a mythical, satisfying government:
Joe: Life’s hard and my government isn’t helping the condition.
Gov: What would you like?
Joe: A good paying job so I can support my family.
Gov: Done. I just pulled some strings now you make ten times what you did before. What else?
Joe: I want out of debt, pay off the house and credit cards.
Gov: Understood. We just bailed you out, like we did for the banks. Anything else?
Joe: I want my kids to go to a good college and have a future in this country.
Gov: I totally understand. It’s no problem, I just called someone. Your kid is now in University of Michigan. It’s a great school.
Joe: And their debt?
Gov: Yes, well, at this point in order to be competitive in the marketplace, potentially earn enough to pay off their debt and maybe buy a house, your kid will probably have to do graduate studies. Would you like that?
Joe: OK. Which is the best?
Gov: Ivy League in most cases but not necessarily. Depending on the focus.
Gov: Great. Anything else?
Joe: Well, you’ve done so much already, how can I ask for anything else.
Gov: That’s what we’re here for. Wait, one last thing. Your kid just told us he’s studying political science and plans to run for office in a few years. Do you plan on voting for your kid?
Joe: Absolutely not, he sounds like an elitist.
Another analogy is simply in working class America. Let’s say you are a mechanic. A guy opens shop next to you who has never touched a car. A car pulls up and it’s driver says it needs its oil change. Which is the better bet, you the mechanic, who knows the cars inside and out, whom to order oil from, has relationships with other mechanics or the guy who has no contacts and no experience?
Implicit in libertarian leaning Republicans is the suspicion that government work isn’t a skilled job. Well as elected positions are largely the law making arm of government, they are lawyers who know how to write, read and interpret laws. So it’s a skill.
The misconception of these broadly applied terms like “elitist” is that they assume the person’s origins are equally elitist, which undermines any governmental effort to create social mobility. Another way of putting it is those who have not are obstructing those who have worked. As you can see it’s a counter productive stance, and at the same time a hallmark of American suspicion of government.