Thursday, September 11, 2008

Privilege in politics

Privilege in politics looks like this: making a crude remark about the president and assuming everyone present agrees with you that it's funny.

Greeting everyone every morning with a number representing how many days are left until the president is out of office, because of course we're all eagerly awaiting that day.

Complaining about the people too stupid to vote the way you think they should, because after all, you know better than they do how to run their lives.

What is privilege in politics? Liberals in the big cities on the two coasts who have majority control of the information media. Megan McArdle compares it to white privilege:

Many readers responded to my post on coastal contempt by saying, in essence, "They do it too!" There are two answers to that. The first is that if you understand there is a difference between black and white racial resentments, then you should understand that there is a difference between comments by a powerful elite, and comments by a less powerful group, even a majority. (See, say, the Malay/Chinese disputes).

The second is that here's an area where controlling the media hurts us. When they make cracks, they make them in private, where we can't hear them. When we do it, we often do it in public, right there on the television or in national print media. So they are more aware of, and resentful of, coastal condescension than vice versa.

It must hugely influence her perception that she is, by her own admission, a coastal elite--raised in New York City and I believe currently living in Washington, DC. There are some useful rebuttals in the comments, but in general I think she's made a good point. Because I have friends who are all over the map politically, and because I live in a liberal stronghold, I know which ones hold their tongues at parties and in conversations both online and off, and which ones blithely speak their disdain and frustration with the political party they don't like.

1 comment:

Laura Back said...

I might argue that privilege in politics is having one's (or one's group's, really, since privilege is ordinarily group-based) preferred candidates/positions prevail more often than not. The rest is ressentiment, sour grapes.