The Divide Between Main Street Americans and the Elites Is Widening

Silicon Valley, Manhattan, and Washington have become bubbles that have lost contact with everyday Americans.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Grant Wood: 'The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa,' 1931. Via Wikimedia Commons

For the past 30 years or so, the left has invented a narrative that there are two Americas: a group of very super-rich people — the 1-percenters — who have prospered over the past several decades, and everyone else who has gotten poorer.

It’s a fairy-tale narrative because almost all Americans have seen financial progress. The median household income adjusted for inflation rose by more than 40 percent since 1984. 

Prosperity isn’t an “us vs. them” zero-sum game. A rising tide really does lift all boats. 

Yet there really are two Americas today. First, there are the cultural and overeducated snobs — the kind of people who religiously read the New York Times, drive electric vehicles, wear Harvard or Yale sweaters, and have never even heard of Nascar or eaten at Popeyes or ridden a John Deere tractor. 

And then there is normal Main Street America. The snobs thumb their collective noses at the unrefined working-class Americans. The elites believe they are intellectually, culturally, and morally superior to the working class and rural America. You won’t see too many elites at a President Trump rally with 30,000 people. 

A group I helped found, the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, just published a study entitled “Them vs. U.S.” examining how America’s cultural elites — defined as at least one postgraduate degree, $150,000-plus annual income, high-density urban residence, and attended an Ivy League school — are hopelessly out of touch with ordinary Americans. Pollster Scott Rasmussen did the research. 

Here are some of the key jaw-dropping revelations from the survey: 

Financial Well-being: Nearly three-quarters of the elites surveyed believe they are better off now financially than they were when President Biden entered the White House. Less than 20 percent of ordinary Americans feel the same way.

Individual Freedom: Elites are three times more likely than all Americans to say there is too much individual freedom in the country. Astonishingly, almost half of the elites and almost six of ten ivy leaguers say there is too much freedom. 

Climate Change: An astonishing 72 percent of the elites — including 81 percent of the elites who graduated from the top universities — favor banning gas cars. And majorities of elites would ban gas stoves, nonessential air travel, SUVs, and private air conditioning. That means no air travel with the children to Disney World. 

Education: Most elites think that teachers unions and school administrators should control the agenda of schools. Most mainstream Americans think that parents should make these decisions. 

Oh, and about three-quarters of these cultural elites are supporters of Mr. Biden. Surprised? Read the full report on the committee’s website.

The Grand Canyon-sized divide between the elites in America and ordinary Americans is so profound that it is as if they live in two different countries. Silicon Valley, Manhattan, and Washington have become bubbles that have lost contact with everyday Americans.

This explains why the political class — which is a big part of the elite group — is confused by poll numbers showing that voters are feeling financially stressed out. The elites are doing fine, so they believe that everyone is prospering.

I suspect that most don’t want radical change in the public schools because their children attend blue-chip private schools. They are fine with abolishing SUVs because in big cities, Americans generally don’t drive those cars — if they drive cars at all. 

Crime, illegal immigration, inflation, fentanyl, and factory closings aren’t keeping the elite up at night because in their cocoons, they don’t encounter these problems on a daily basis the way so many Americans do today. Not too many Main Street Americans are losing sleep about climate change or Lgbtq issues. 

The elites in America tend to work in the “talking professions” — university professors, journalists, lawyers, actors, and lobbyists. They keep talking and normal Americans are more than ever not listening to them.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use