On the surface, my life and career up to this point appear to vindicate the virtuous life of a model meritocrat
- the first person ever in my family to go to college, and the first-generation immigrant who found gold in California's expanding system of higher education.
, meanwhile, need to display real skill to get to the top where they then achieve helplessness as the reward for former know-how.
Both are meritocrats
of modest birth whose political roots are on the left (Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, Clinton ran George McGovern's presidential campaign in Texas) who, for reasons of political and programmatic pragmatism, embraced policies outside the traditional liberal framework.
Needless to say, these concentrated centers of meritocrats are drawn to progressive political programs, often providing key electoral and financial support for liberal candidates in Blue States.
Further, they vaguely perceive that their own taxes end up enabling the bad habits of the meritocrat class.
There's a danger in all this for Obama and his fellow meritocrats
in the administration.
like to think of themselves as believing in equality of opportunity.
As a general rule, meritocrats prefer things that can be described with words like "authentic" or "understated" or quality" or old," so long as they aren't seedy; they also have a weakness for well-designed hightech stuff.
Also, in the case of the Lifer track, meritocrats stay away because over the last generation they've developed a contempt for organizational life, and their dream of success is now symbolized by those magazine ads in which the guy is sitting alone on a mountaintop with his notebook computer.
Playing by these rules, many (though of course not all) meritocrats also adhere to unofficial and rather arbitrary rules of taste-the right clothes, car, wine, and so forth-which they rarely see as arbitrary or snobbish but consider part of the just system by which the right people display sophistication and reap life's rewards.
Not so much Donald Trump-his wealth may rankle, but his crudity is a great consolation; meritocrats don't really want to be Donald Trump.