The pundits handicapping tonight's Trump-Clinton debate were slowly driving me insane, and now they've speeded up. The debate is not a fair fight, and should not be. A guy who doesn't know anything is supposed to lose a debate against a smart person who knows a lot. Anything that makes those people an "even" match is a fix. But the craven attempts to frame Trump v. Clinton as an even-money proposition has finally put my finger on something that's been bugging me for a long time: the insistence that being smart is elitist. That is not true, and never has been, because there are a lot more smart people than there are elite people. The idea that only "elitists" are smart is complete bigotry. It flatters people who consider themselves elite, and plays on their stupidity.
America was built upon a broad populace of basically smart and decently educated people. That is what makes the country work. The idea that average people are basically bright and remember things they've learned is not some fantasy. The idea that "intelligence" is confined to ten percent of the population, mis-defining intelligence as being in the top ten percent of the standardized test scores, is the shoddy thinking of the snobbish.
A majority of people in the United States are smarter and better informed than Donald Trump, who has enough money not to think at all. You don't need an advanced degree to know Mexico is not paying for any wall. You don't need to go to Harvard to see that this guy is full of it. You need to be a pampered elite journalist to mistake that blowhard for one of the average people outside your little bubble.
Now, we have been steadily neglecting or attacking most of the institutions that support our basically-smart country: the public libraries, the public schools, the public universities. There has been an enormous slant in this country toward monopolizing education for the elite, to the benefit of those elites and the undoing of our country. Underestimating the average person's intelligence is the basic error of all American elitists, but a mistake that benefits them in the short term. Of course, in the long run, being at the top of the pyramid because you've undermined its base is a sucker's move. But nobody said the elite were actually very smart. Well, except them.