November 21, 2004


Over the last few years, a lot of people have been talking about the liberal “elite” in disparaging terms.  The liberal elite, apparently, are the people sitting on the “far left bank” of the mainstream, as the President would have it, and he does seem to know a great deal about extreme positions. 

But who are the liberal “elite,” really?

We are the latte-sipping, Mini-driving, Queer Eye-watching, sushi-eating, wine-drinking set.  We are more likely to sport Paul Smith than Paul Bunyan. We prefer Corey Flintoff to Rush Limbaugh. We don’t abuse prescription drugs (under Bush, we can’t afford them); our fix is reading publications with “New York” in the title.  If spiritual, we are not evangelical. We may speak a foreign language, and we are among the minority of Americans with a passport. We have broadband connections, with which we watch clips from The Daily Show.

We do not necessarily, however, live in a so-called “blue state.” Rather, we live in urban areas. Our favorite American cities include San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Seattle, but we could very well be living in Austin, Des Moines, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, or Madison.  If you are an American living abroad, you are probably one of us.

Come to think of it, the term “elite” seems like a misnomer, given that we seem to have absolutely no power in the government.

We do have values, and one of the most important is Fairness.  We despise hypocrisy and double-speak.  But more on that later.

In short, the liberal elite are far more interesting than the theo-cons who surround our current President.

Therefore welcome, fellow members of the liberal “elite,” to Latte.  While mostly political, from time to time we will talk about other stuff, such as distracting gear to buy during your four year therapeutic shopping spree, international travel tips, hot Web sites, innovative music to download to your iPod, and must-read books and articles.

Your comments are welcome, except poll-tested but logically faulty statements like “It’s better to fight them over there than here at home” or “If you tax the rich, they just hire accountants!” Actually – feel free to write things like that, but be prepared to be gleefully mocked by other readers when you do.

For the rest of you, relax, and sip that $4.00 suspension of water and coffee bean detritus.  You’ll need it - it’s going to be a long four years.

© 2004, Will Friedman, All Rights Reserved

By Will Friedman in About | Permalink  | 


An exceptionally well-written blog. A must read!

Posted by: Nancy Collins | Nov 22, 2004 2:50:08 AM

Good post. I'm afraid the real answer is very short and sad. When the Right says "Liberal Elite" they mean "Jew". Plain and simple.

Posted by: mp | Dec 14, 2004 4:42:51 PM

Hello, I too wish to be part of the liberal elite (so far I'm just part of the proud blue-state base, but I am still trying to achieve elitism). I wish I could have found my way here sooner, but I was busy looking for banned books at the library, planning the socialist redistribution of wealth, buying some hemp sandals, protesting the reign of King George the 2nd, and listening to Air America in my Volkswagen bus. Down with fascism!

Posted by: Shea Comerford | Dec 14, 2004 10:17:43 PM

I must confess: I'm a latte-sipping, Queer Eye-watching, sushi-eating, wine-drinking guy who even drives a Renault. I am trilingual, my passport has been everywhere and I enjoy watching clips of the Daily Show. I am not an evangelical.

However, I am a conservative, a Mexican citizen, a fan of Rush Limbaugh who thinks Ann Coulter is wickedly funny and a guy who stumbled onto this page while reading the Dartmouth Review.

So, could you please stop stereotyping conservatives? That doesn't go well with your commitment to Fairness. Other than that, I look forward to reading your blog.

Posted by: Miguel | Dec 16, 2004 10:29:09 AM

Excellent point Miquel; it seems those who HATE stereotypes are the ones most guilty of it. In your glorification of your own stereotype you have (as Miquel adeptly pointed out) defined what you feel is the stereotype of your Conservative counterpart:

Evangelical, Pickup driving, Rx drug addicts who are just too unsophisticated to live in "Urban Areas". Right?

Besides the fact that Rx drug addicts falls more under the "liberal elite" stereotype (accurate or not), where you really lose me is the "you will be mocked by the other readers"; which of course assumes that all that Conservatives can come up with is talking the liberal elites are always willing to do.

I'll give you my word on one thing. If I post a comment (another one) it will backed up by logic, reason, and historically sound reference. Are you gonna throw your latte at me if I do? If you come to my site and do the same, regardless of your point of view, you will not be ridiculed. That's because we have a better understanding (apparently) of your noble intentions as "liberal elites" than you do of our ability to reason.

Are you willing to accept diversity of thought, or not?

Posted by: BP | Dec 17, 2004 6:52:18 AM

Liberal is better than Conservative but only for the fact that you're generally not homophobic, racist, gun toting and moronic.
The problem I see is that too many Democrats, and Americans in general, are blind to the fact that no matter who is in power the American government and corporate elite always succeed in exploiting the planet, carry out a brutal imperial agenda, declare wars on soverign nations and train soldiers who kill those who work for social change in Latin America at the School of the Americas/WHISC in Ft. Benning, Georgia, just to quote a few examples.
The American (and first-world) lifestyle of compulsive consumerism is killing the planet and exploiting the countries of the global south, not to mention those workers who serve you your lattes at Starbucks for a wage that is impossible to live on.
Not voting for Bush isn't enough. Buy a fair trade coffee at Starbucks next time, if you want to passively participate for a start. Read some Noam Chomsky you snotty fools!!!

Posted by: Radical Cannuck | Dec 17, 2004 2:48:34 PM

This was so humorous! I can't believe the above took it seriously. Excellent humor! MORE MORE!

Posted by: Jack | Dec 17, 2004 7:05:37 PM

Well, now, having read your output, I note the qualifications you set for liberal "elite" membership seem not too hard to meet. As for food, I consume not only sushi but also sashimi, katsu domburi, chanko nabe, tofu creations and natto, mixed with raw eggs or wrapped in nori and deep fat fried, of course, kimchee and a variety of goulashes and sausages, including Regensburgers. I sip latte and down home brewed Columbia bean coffee that is nearly as strong as espresso, which I also like; and I drink wines, imbibe sakis, hot and cold, enjoy several single malts, gins and vodkas and tequillas, and Grolsch and Guinness and San Miguel beers. I have travelled to and/or lived in such disparate, distant places as France, Germany, Austria, England, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Korea and Vietnam -- hell, I even lived near and worked in Boston -- and first obtained a passport in 1956 and have used one steadily since 1973, whilst working in Japan for a number of schools, including Logos Sen Mon Gakko and a branch of McKendree College of Lebanon, Illinois, and rewriting patent translations and reading New York and Washington pubs and the Japan Times.

Whew! All these things being true, why the devil ain't I a liberal "elite"? you may ask. Simple, I suppose. I ain't got a "queer" eye, and through my travels I've learned that the nation where I was born, in 1925, had and has the best government I have ever encountered or read about, which includes dearest Cuba, North Korea, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, Lybia, Iran and the USSR, or the CCCP, if you so prefer.

Enough said, have a good one.

Posted by: The Sergeant Major | Dec 22, 2004 12:22:22 PM

Is mir doch Latte! :-)


Posted by: Test your Foreign Language Skills | Dec 27, 2004 5:12:23 AM

That the US has the best government is of course, a matter of opinon. Certainly being American might make one prejudice. My father was in the Army, served in Korea and was a Republican as long as he lived. He was also able to look at his country and say, "This is wrong."

Posted by: Frenchie | Apr 29, 2005 4:50:51 AM

As a Brit do I qualify? Automatically or otherwise? Former PR exec for Rupert Murdoch, this media studies graduate now lectures in public relations and is regularly mocked by his fellow academics (I know, I know) for his eliteness, if not his liberalosity; iPod, Alfa Romeo, iBook, Dolce & Gabbana this, Ferragamo that, etc etc etc.

OR...grumpy old man who can't understand how right wing most so-called liberals are, and is delighted by the bovine stupidity of self-styled conservative "intellectuals"...

Posted by: John Brissenden | May 2, 2005 5:16:14 PM

You can't afford persciption drugs, yet you drink four dollar coffee and indulge regularly in international travel. Huh? Who exactly are the hypocrites again?
You are right on a few things though, you do have limited political power, yet did you ever stop and ponder why? It's atleast in part because your anti-military, anti-tradition blame America first for everything dogma scares the hell out of us non-elite regular folk. The fact that your ilk flock to jobs in mainstream media and acadamia where they try to persuede all of us non-pointyheads how to think and feel under the guise of news stories and lectures isn't enough to make us change our minds. Good luck with this latest endevour.

Posted by: Joss | Jul 2, 2005 4:43:14 AM

Hi Joss,

Just to set the record straight: Actually, I work for an American company and am based overseas, and I travel for my job. I can afford all the prescription drugs I want, because over here, there is universal health care for all. But unfortunately, my retired Aunt in the US spends all of her Social Security benefits every month on her prescriptions. My parents cannot retire because their health care costs are too high. I would happily sacrifice the $10 I spend on latte's every month to help them, but I would be hundreds of dollars short.

You ascribe anti-military attitudes to me, but nothing in my writing justifies that. I wish that my friend Jim wasn't being sent to Iraq, but he is, and I certainly support him and all the other soldiers there. What I resent are the lies and cover ups that led to my friend being sent to fight a foreign war on false pretenses.

I do confess to being "reality-based;" I think we can make better decisions based on facts than on spin, and in that I certainly differ from Karl Rove.

So if believing that we need better health care in the US, supporting our military, not wanting to see social security privatized, and thinking that public officials should try to make decisions based on facts rather than politics makes me an "elite," then maybe I'll consider stripping the quotation marks out of the name of this blog.

In the meantime, this is still the Blog for the Liberal "Elite" for a reason.

Posted by: Will | Jul 16, 2005 10:25:09 AM

I always wondered why white liberals never bought houses in the poorest neighborhoods?

I am a Latina and most white liberals seem to live in wealthy places like Berkeley, yet seldom do any of them move or buy houses in neighboring Oakland?

White Liberals live in mostly white areas where their homes are very expensive. Some even live next to well off Republicans.

I live in a poor area in Northern California and most white liberals live in rich white enclaves and small towns like Davis. That town canceled a black celebration some years ago which brought black people into their town from neighboring cities. Those white liberal areas seldom have low income housing for poor people or promote miniorities to live in their midst.

Above San Fransisco is the most whitest and richest areas of California, yet it is the most liberal part of the state. Sean Penn moved there after his wife was robbed in L.A. Why don't white liberals promote more Multiculturism or diversity in their white cities? They should walk the walk and talk the talk and not give lip service.

Most of the liberal states are the most whitest and richest states. I thought that they were against wealth and rich fat cats? Yet I know more wealthy liberals then wealthy Republicans.

Well they should spread their wealth around. Instead of giving money to they should give that money to the Salvation Army or money for promoting diversity in their own backyard.

Then they never send their kids to our schools that would stop the mostly segregated schools if they had a movement to spend their children to schools in the most harden poor areas.

Posted by: Maria | Aug 23, 2005 3:36:17 AM

Hi Maria,

Liberals tend to live in urban areas. So while it's true there are plenty in San Francisco, there are also plenty in LA and Detroit and other urban areas.

Universal health care, affirmative action for those in poverty, and rescinding the "Paris Hilton" tax break for the richest heirs are liberal policies. During Bush’s time in office, he has fought an unnecessary war in Iraq in which minorities die disproportionately, given tax cuts to the rich, reduced Pell grants, and cut Head Start, Food Stamp programs, Medicaid, among other things.

Worse, the gap between the richest of the rich and everyone else has grown to historic proportions under Bush. By giving tax breaks to the richest estates, he is insuring that a whole generation of spoiled, privileged heirs will start life even farther ahead of everyone else. Why would Bush do any differently? He is the quintessential example of being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

Bush’s policies are making the rich richer, and the poor poorer, no matter where you live. It’s time to try another way.

Posted by: Overseas Will | Aug 23, 2005 9:02:13 AM

I prefer gourmet teas myself.

Posted by: Yet another Will | Mar 8, 2006 11:42:51 PM

The 60's are over you drugged up, Zen masters living your "alternative," lifestyles. Get a grip with reality! Stop sipping your moacha-chino latte vende size! I'm 12 years old and I don't see you actually making a point (Which if you liberals had I would'nt agree with anyway, but they can still have a say,) All I see your type do is kiss Britney Spears and get divorced in a frenzy of affairs. Get a life people.

Posted by: Jesse | Mar 21, 2006 5:43:43 PM

Perhaps you are the liberal elite because you live in a society where you can afford to live in big houses in urban neighborhoods with good schools, sip lattes, eat sushi, drink wine, and yet bemoan that the Republicans are not doing well by our poor neighbors (in Oakland or wherever).

I work for a nonprofit, in Boston. I pull a salary that is officially low income for me and my son (I'm a single mother).

I am a liberal, but I am not of the investor class. And so many of the society liberals, when we have working groups on some issue, will schedule meetings at, yes, perhaps a sushi restaurant or some such.

The liberal elite are elites because they blindly consume and retain their privileges, while bemoaning tax breaks that are given to them by the administration and giving less to charities (in proportion to income) than their conservative or liberal low income counterparts.

Yes, I have a sense of humor. But I use both my sense of humor and my sense of purpose to maintain me while I go out every day and work for low pay for high purpose -- so at the end of the day, the latte set make me tired.

If they would do more, give more, they might have less to bitch about. But then, bitching is easier than rolling up sleeves and getting to work.

Perhaps you don't have power because you aren't taking it.

Enjoy Jon Stewart on your $150/mo cable and broadband hookup, guys! That's my food budget for a month, including eating out, for two people. Visualize simplicity and making time to *do* things about the causes you care about.

Posted by: Shava Nerad | Jul 16, 2006 1:13:52 PM

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