I don’t have much time, ducking in between panels here at Netroots, but I didn’t want the week to go by without an installment of Recess Appointment’s most popular feature. Without further ado, let’s look at an article from Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon explaining that only celebrities still support Barack Obama.
This is a bold claim to make of the President who still enjoys a slim lead in national polling and a 60% chance of winning when considering electoral college polling. But whatever.
The article begins by informing us that:
The few remaining skeptics of the idea that there is an American ruling class—comprising the perversely overcompensated men and women in finance, law, media, and entertainment who through a bizarre, osmotic alchemy determine the boundaries of social and political correctness—need only glance at the president’s schedule.
See, I would have thought the American ruling class was the .1% of the American populace who disproportionately spend on SuperPAC ads and lobbying efforts to maintain a system of tax privileges for themselves that result in the wealthiest individuals and corporations paying less of their wealth in taxes than the average American. Apparently actors with a few million on hand (and who pay standard income tax rates mind you…except Wesley Snipes) are much more of a threat to American egalitarianism than multi-billionaires.
Unfortunately this kind of article represents a virulent strain of conservative rhetoric — deflecting criticism of their wealthy benefactors by attacking celebrities. Human nature does not accept the idea of a ruling class generating massive wealth without “working for it.” This is the impulse that could undermine the system of tax privileges that conservatives have established.
To avoid this pitfall, conservatives select actors and the media to receive the scorn of the average American. The small cadre of high profile media figures appear to outsiders as benefiting from high pay while seemingly exerting little effort. The invention of the celebrity-for-the-sake-of-celebrity (called by some “celebutards”) only reinforces this conservative narrative by highlighting celebrities making millions on TV while doing nothing more than lounging around their homes in a life of leisure.
For conservatives, these are the true ruling class, and they manifest this by contributing their time to Democratic party causes even while much more wealthy plutocrats shape the legislation that governs America at both the state and federal level.