The experts will take care of us
Gelertner claims that a basic belief of Democratic politicians is that ordinary people are not clever enough to do a decent job looking after themselves. They require a wise and benevolent government to watch over them and make sure that things aren't too hard for them. Thus, Democratic state legislators in Georgia are making a big stink over a bill requiring photo IDs for voting, claiming that it will interfere with voting by minorities and the elderly. But the bill makes it free and dead easy for pretty much anybody to obtain a photo ID. Are they saying that minorities and the elderly are simply not able to manage it? And isn't that pretty insulting, really?
Similarly, Democrats are opposed to school voucher plans, in part because they fear that parents will wind up spending that money to send their kids to private schools that are crummy or wicked. Parents are not smart enough to make good decisions for their own children. And Democrats are fighting tooth-and-nail against President Bush's plan of private Social Security investment accounts, raising the concern that people will invest their retirement money foolishly. In each case, the Democratic position is the one in which ordinary people are not trusted to take responsibility for their own affairs, even in modest ways.
And here is where Gelertner draws blood. He explains this tendancy by saying, "Democrats are professors in disguise. Scratch a Democrat, find a professor." Academics have a world-view that is congenial to socialism and central planning. As he concludes,
Professors see the world in terms of experts and students: "We are smart; you are dumb." That's the Infantile American Principle in a nutshell. Now go play with your toys and don't bother me.As a card-carrying member of the professoriat, I just have one comment: Ouch.