Bob Franken

Simple Truth about Simple Folk

April 16, 2008
Simple Truth About Simple Folk (Bob Franken)
@ 10:27 am

Isn’t it amazing that so many decades after the Kennedy image-makers contrived Camelot as their symbol, we can once again turn to that same Lerner and Loewe musical for understanding about politics in the present age?

It’s a show-stopper, Arthur and Guinevere singing, “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”

What — do the simple folk do?

To pluck up the heart and get through?

The wee folk and the grown folk who wander to and fro

Have ways known to their own folk we throne folk don’t know.

Fast-forward to Barack Obama at a fundraiser explaining to those equally puzzled in the present day as to what the “Simple Folk” do.

The problem is not Obama, but the sad fact that his audience needed an explanation about how regular people lived.

The “Throne Folk” of merry old England are replaced by today’s elites, who are just as out of touch. They are the self-declared royals who look with contempt at those who must do real work and struggle to make ends meet.

Many are the Silver Spoons. Others are those who were able to flourish by doing what they were told, without questioning their teachers. That way they got the good grades, which got them into the various country-club universities, whose real intellectual specialty is networking.

By the time they enter adulthood, they have been largely insulated from the intrusions of humanity and wisdom that one only gets from the struggle to achieve.

Worst of all, they make that struggle harder. With their lock on access, they inherit power from those who successfully excluded everyone else. Their key for keeping their privilege is to make damned sure they do whatever they need to do to keep control of the levers of power.

It involves a lot of subterfuge, because we pretend that everyone has an equal voice. Those in our lower castes have a theoretical say in how things are done. They are fooled into accepting and supporting the very system that keeps them in their place.

So the insiders venture out, saying and doing whatever it takes to win the prizes in the regularly scheduled election masquerades.

Guinevere Clinton can be found, if necessary, acting like she’s at home tossing back a shot and a beer. King William has often been able to play the regular-guy role, too, creating legends of his own.

As for John McCain, he has certainly paid his hard dues, but now he’s showing that he is comfortable with economic policies that keep the fat cats fat. That way, this man who has earned what he’s gotten gets to join those who have not.

The very premise of elitism is false. We don’t really have an elite, no aristocracy, no meritocracy, no “tocracy” at all. The fact that we’ve created a false one explains why our rulers are taking our country down the tubes.

We do have millions of brilliant and accomplished people from all walks of life, geniuses in whatever they do.

But the truly intelligent are smart enough not to wall themselves off from the “Simple Folk.”

Those who survive simply by the pretense of elegance bring to mind another song, this one by the blues band Fathead. It’s called “First Class Riff Raff.”

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