Learning You’re Not Elite

Jesse Singal has a nice review of Chris Hayes’ new book, Twilight of the Elites. In it, the author takes on the uncomfortable but essential task of confronting America’s increasingly desperate faith in the just world fallacy.

From his study of Hayes’ book, Singal writes that “those near the middle are only just now seeing just how bad a deal they are in for, just how severely their futures have been compromised for the benefit of a tiny sliver at the top.”

If you ever want to see a middle-class person learn first hand and immediately that he or she is not actually an elite, attend an arraignment docket down at the county courthouse and watch defendants brought up on misdemeanors. The poor defendants already know what to expect. They’ve lived discrimination and they might qualify for the public defender. So they look bored and tired. They’re not afraid of because they have no expectations.

But the middle-class defendants will be absolutely bewildered and visibly terrified. They have no idea what they’re in for. And the only things they’ve ever heard or known about our criminal justice system are that it’s horrible, and that it’s for Other People. Watch them up shaking as they struggle to keep up with that judge reciting from the state criminal code. That’s when a lot of people realize they aren’t elites. That’s when they learn they’re Other People too.

Randolph Brickey

Randolph Brickey is an attorney in solo practice in Northern Virginia.