There is a wonderful story about Davey Crockett being schooled by one of his constituents about the constitutionality of a vote he made. Congressman Crockett didn’t belittle the gentleman or act as if the constituent, because he was a common man, couldn’t possibly understand how things worked in politics. He listened and changed his course in Washington; later giving a great speech in Washington about why he wouldn’t be voting for a specific bill because of its unconstitutionality.
Compare that to an exchange I had earlier this year with one of my state senators.
I had emailed a state senator about an issue I was concerned about; I knew he was going to vote opposite my view. Much to my surprise, he called me the next day to discuss the issue. I was pleased that he had taken the time to address my concerns, until he started talking. He began by asking me a series of questions to make certain I understood the issue clearly and went on to explain a few things to me. His tone was not rude, but definitely felt condescending. There was obviously, in his mind, no way I could understand the issue as clearly as he could. Not only that, but because of a meeting he was rushing off to, he had no time to actually talk to me about the issue, just to make sure I knew he was smarter than me.
Last week National Review Online ran an article about why conservatives should support Common Core. It was an example of the same sort of thing. Listen to us. Trust us. We’re academia and therefore smarter than you and more capable of truly understanding Common Core. You poor little people.
We keep hearing that we should support Common Core because, look, Jeb Bush does and he’s a Republican. Here in Idaho we get it from Tom Luna and Reed Demordaunt, both “conservative” Republicans. (I say this very carefully because I know Congressman Demordaunt and like him quite a bit.)
The battle lines are being drawn a little differently. It’s no longer left vs right. It’s now the elite, whether political, economic or academic, vs. the common man. We have an emerging oligarchy who think that because of their privilege they know better than the rest of us.
As a conservative researching Common Core, I find myself reading articles from publications such as the Huffington Post and Sacramento Bee – hardly bastions of conservative thought – and agreeing with them.
It would be nice to see a return to the sensibilities of Davey Crockett, who realized he wasn’t special because he was an elected official instead he had a special obligation to his constituency to listen to them. They were, after all, smart enough to elect him.