When people feel their place in the world is threatened, they tend to lash out. And after all, the gentry liberals were promised by no less a figure than Clinton Labor secretary and former Harvard professor Robert Reich that the symbolic analysts like them would own the future.
But my favorite example came much more recently, in the form of a New Yorker cartoon showing an airline passenger (seated in Economy, of course) standing up and asking his fellow passengers: “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?”
In this view, ordinary people are just carried along for the ride, while the country is run by experts with vast experience and credentials. Letting ordinary people take charge would surely result in a disastrous crash. If the pilots are “smug” it’s because they have abilities that ordinary people lack.
This is nice, if you see yourself as one of the pilots, possessed of those special abilities. If you think of yourself as one of the smart people, the ones who should be guiding the airplane of state (we used to talk about the “ship of state,” but hey, this is the 21st century), then the suggestion that the passengers might want to take over the controls is both insulting and frightening.
But, of course, being a member of the governing class doesn’t involve anything like the specialized skills that flying an airplane does. And just as passengers on an airplane actually do get to choose their destination — they’re paying customers, after all — so the voters get to choose things, too. (And if you look at recent history, the “pilots” tend to crash the plane a lot, but then walk away unscathed, unlike those passengers in the back. Peggy Noonan calls these political elites the “protected class” and she’s not far wrong: “The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it.”)
And now that Trump has won, people are, in fact, a lot less respectful of the traditional academic and media and political elites. Trump didn’t just beat them, after all. He also humiliated them, as they repeatedly assured everyone (and each other) that he had no chance. It’s a huge blow to the self-importance of a lot of people. No wonder they’re still lashing out.
This would be funny if it wasn't for two things: First, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million or so, and second, Trump and his "pilots" are the least-experienced group in modern times to try to run America's "airplane of state". It's one thing for the passengers on the plane to try to fly one, it's another for the airline to actually employ people who have not only never flown a plane as pilots but who don't believe planes can fly because the "scientific debate on aeronautics isn't settled" or that their "religious beliefs are being impinged upon by the people who think man should take to the skies" or that they've taken large amounts of money to lobby against airplanes, airports, and the FAA even existing.
Trump airlines hires literally the least capable people to fly an airliner, guys. But the problem is liberals who maybe don't want to crash into the sea, right?