Every society has a Ruling Class. In the United States, it is the super wealthy and those with Ivy League educations – especially those with degrees from Harvard or Yale. The leaders of our bureaucracies, major newspapers, opinion journals, think tanks, courts, corporations, universities, media conglomerates and political class come from one of these two groups – or ambitious individuals who have ingratiated themselves with these groups.
This was not necessarily a bad thing, as long as our Ruling Class was competent. But in the mid-20th century, the value system of our Ruling Class began to deviate from that of the ruled. Our Ruling Class became for more hedonistic, greedy, cowardly and arrogant. It became socially acceptable for powerful men to dump their wives for younger more nubile women. Judicial decisions that bypassed democratic process removed God from public schools, allowed pornography to proliferate and legalized abortion. The media portrayed those with conservative family values as sexist buffoons.
Drug use became fashionable among the Ruling Class. Harvard professor Timothy Leary became a media darling in the 60s by promoting LSD use. Marijuana and cocaine were staples at fashionable Manhattan parties. In fact, when President Nixon initiated the so-called War on Drugs, it had to be curtailed because so many elite scions were being arrested.
Our Ruling Class still wanted to make the world safe for democracy, but didn’t desire to be killed or maimed doing so. Thus, protests against the Viet Nam War began at elite universities and culminated with the abolishment of the draft and an all-volunteer army that consisted mostly of minorities and lower middle-class whites.
Tax cuts on the super-rich by President Reagan created the incentive for a new class of robber barons to raid corporations and strip workers of their health care and pensions while moving their jobs overseas. Wall Street was able to speculate with impunity and get bailed out while the ruled got the bill and foreclosure notices.
This Ruling Class incompetence first decimated the jobs and family structure of urban minorities. African-Americans returned in disproportionately high numbers in body bags from Vietnam, while the crack epidemic of the eighties turned their neighborhoods in to war zones. The Ruling Class yawned. But then the same phenomenon happened in white rural America – family destruction, joblessness, opioid overdose deaths and body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan.
But rural white American did something that black America did not. It started leaning Republican and then supported a man for president that the Ruling Class considered to be a crude joke – Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the main spokesperson for the Ruling Class, Hillary Clinton, ridiculed Trump’s supporters at a tony Manhattan fundraiser hosted by Barbra Streisand while an inaccurate CNN poll had her ahead of Trump by 14 points.
In what historians will record as the greatest political gaffe in modern history, she ridiculed Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” screeching “[they are] racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it” to the cheers of her Ruling Class crowd.
Then Trump committed his first real crime – he won. Our Ruling Class has not taken this well and remains determined to remove Trump from office. But then Trump committed his second crime: he governed competently. A combination of tax cuts and deregulation has the economy roaring. The crack down on illegal immigration has resulted in the lowest unemployment levels of blacks and Hispanics since statistics have been collected. For the first time in recent memory, the wages for the working poor are increasing. Slow progress is being made on many difficult foreign policy issues.
But the Ruling Class will not give up, insisting that Trump colluded with the Russians in spite of no obvious evidence. But with Trump presiding over peace and prosperity, the Ruling Class is forced to put all their marbles into Robert Mueller’s investigation – as it appears less likely they can defeat Trump at the ballot box. Thus, expect Trump to subpoenaed or indicted by a grand jury in the near future.
How this will end is beyond me. But our Ruling Class seems to keep asking itself, “Why did the country put this joker in power?” What they should be asking is “How did we rule so incompetently that the desperate voters saw Trump as their only recourse?”
Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.