Some people say that Barack Obama is an elitist. They say that the presidential hopeful looks down on the rest of the American public, believing that he is better than all of them. He may be trying to present an image of hope for the country, but most folks have a problem with elitism. At the same time, they don’t want some unqualified schmuck to get the office in the White House either and therein lies the quandary of elitism.

Better, But Not Better

When we look to leaders like Barack Obama, we expect them to be better equipped to run things. The same can be said about guys like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who run some rather successful companies. We want them to be better than us at what they do. We want to be led by someone who is inspired, knowledgeable, and well-skilled.

Ironically, we also want these leaders to be “one of us”, in the sense that we share the same interests, views, and opinions. It’s also admirable when a leader is well-grounded and humble. We want him to be one of the boys. We don’t want someone to look down on us, pushing us off into a corner because we are not worthy of his presence.

In this way, we want the person in charge to be better than us without activating the inferiority complex in all of us. This leader should inspire us to be smarter, faster, and stronger. We want this leader to be better without actually acting like he is any better.

I’m a Victim of Elitism

I’m a pretty competitive person and I work hard at what I do. As a result, I am constantly comparing myself to others. Looking to people who are more successful than I am, I can feel motivated to improve my lot in life. That’s a good thing. However, when you look to people who are less successful, less skillful, or less knowledgeable, there appears to be some innate tendency to look down upon them. They say that it’s lonely at the top, but it’s comforting to look down upon everyone at the bottom.

For this reason, we may be led to believe that society should be governed by the upper echelon of its citizens. We look to people who are especially skilled or well-educated, because they may be better suited to make the right decision for everyone. You wouldn’t want an ignorant person to make all of your decisions, would you? You want solutions that are well-researched and explored, right?

At the same time, you want everyone to have their say. We live in a democratic society and everyone is supposed to be viewed as equals. Elitism is quite the double-edged sword. What’s your take?