Isn’t that what America (and everywhere else in the world) has always been about? Doesn’t almost everyone—from the common man to socialites and fashion designers—want to become part of the elite? At the recent Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace were asked what superhero they would be. Each responded, “Myself.” They live in a universe of one, as everyone dreams.
When I ask others if there’s a problem with being elite, they almost all say no—with one caveat: Bettering yourself shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Hillary Clinton’s reputation among the White House staff when she was first lady was a bit on the mean side of crass. You can pretend you are in touch with the common folk, but that doesn’t mean you should treat people badly.
Thomas Friedman recently wrote in the Times that many think Hillary’s attacks on Barack toughened him up for the general election. “Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents,” he opined. “We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people.”
As Friedman says, millions of Americans want our country to matter in the world again and want it to be about “building wealth and dignity—big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts.” But when we do both, as Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics (and a member of the elite), points out, “no one can touch us.”