I have to laugh every time I hear Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson or any other right-wing media spokesperson refer to Democrats as “liberal elites.” It’s obvious they’ve never looked up the meanings of those two words, and just as obvious that none of their adoring fans have either.
True liberals are open to new ideas and believe in freedom and democracy. Elitists are usually defined as rich, powerful people who think they’re better than anyone else because of their wealth and power.
When right-wingers refer to me and my Democratic friends as “liberal elitists,” it cracks me up. I tried to think of which of my Democratic friends could afford a $150,000 a year membership at Mar-a-Lago, and nobody came to mind. I also don’t know anyone who lives in a penthouse overlooking Manhattan, has a yacht, owns a huge corporation or anything else associated with those considered “elite.”
Among my Democratic friends there are: a plumber, teachers, a delivery driver, a carpenter, construction worker, health care workers, waitresses, retail clerks, mental health counselors, a baker, small business owners, factory workers, an electrician, and several retirees who depend mostly on Social Security checks. None of them has donated large sums of money to any political party or campaign or been in powerful government positions. On the whole, they’re everyday Americans who’ve had to work hard for every dime they ever made. Calling them “elitists” is absurd, but that’s pretty typical for most of the statements and judgments coming from right-wing media.
I never felt like an elitist while working in a juvenile detention home with troubled adolescents, or livestock farming in northern Minnesota while pumping water for cattle when it was minus 40 degrees and my breath made icicles in my nostrils. I didn’t feel very elite one November when a friend called in a panic a day or so after our husbands had gone to the Boundary Waters for a week as part of their jobs—right after they’d butchered one of our full-grown steers and hung it in the friends’ attic to age. Soon after, the weather took a weird turn and the temperature hit 70 degrees. Since I couldn’t leave because of farm chores, I told my friend to bring the meat over. After she got help loading the four quarters into their truck, she drove to my house where we spent all day at the kitchen table cutting it up with a hand saw and knives, and then wrapping and labeling it for their freezer. By the time we got done it was almost midnight and we were exhausted.
But that was a piece of cake compared to a few years later on a 100-degree day when my husband and I unloaded and stacked three full semi-loads of hay bales that had come from Canada. It was our first summer on the dairy farm and it hadn’t rained once from March through July. No crops grew and there was no pasture grass, so nobody in the area had hay to sell. Canada was the closest place we could find it, but we didn’t know they’d deliver it all at the same time. I figured if I didn’t die that day, I never would.
I also didn’t feel like much of an elitist on the dairy farm my husband managed in North Carolina. I took care of more than 200 calves, and one day one of them got loose, took off running, fell into the manure pit, and started sinking. I jumped into manure almost up to my chest and managed to hold the calf’s head above it until my son could run and get my husband to pull it out with a tractor and a rope. I couldn’t walk within a few minutes after I got in there because the manure was cold and the pressure so heavy that I lost all feeling in my legs. I had to be pulled out, too, and even after many showers, still smelled like manure. But according to Hannity and others, I’m one of those liberal elitists.
My Democratic friends and I pay our fair share of taxes and believe in fiscal responsibility. But we don’t think it’s fair that most extremely rich individuals and corporations either pay no taxes or a much lower percentage in taxes than the average hardworking American. President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are trying to fix that, and also trying to bring about campaign finance reform so the rich can’t buy politicians who will legislate for only their own benefit.
Do I agree with everything Democratic lawmakers are proposing? No. But that’s a subject for another time.
Pat Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for more than 35 years. Contact her at email@example.com.