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The ITT List

Thursday, Aug 21, 2008, 7:51 am

The where-do-I-live elite

By Jeremy Gantz

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Every election year, the meaningless word "elitist" is inevitably bandied about like a firebomb -- as though our political/electoral system doesn't essentially require a viable candidate to have annual income well into seven figures, and in basic ways be cut off from the day-to-day struggles of Americans. (Remember Kerry and his "elitist" windsurfing?)

This year is no different, with the McCain campaign labeling Obama as "elitist." Thankfully, McCain himself has proven that charge absurd: He isn't sure how many homes he and his wife own. Now, Americans generally admire wealth, and most would love a second home. But an inability to keep track of them all? That's pure decadent negligence - or senility. Or perhaps just slimy politics: McCain knows exactly how many, but can't bring himself to say it out loud for fear of appearing "elitist."

Can we just ban the use of the word "elitist" during presidential campaigns? Who was the last major party candidate for the White House who was not - on a strictly tax-return basis - part of this country's elite? (By "elite," I mean one of the 3 percent of Americans who earn more than $200,000 annually.)

Not sure if the Politico reporter asked McCain the question because of this 4-minute Brave New Films video released last week:

Jeremy Gantz was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. His January 2011 cover story for the magazine, "Terrorist by Association," was selected as a finalist for the Molly National Journalism Award 2012. He is now a contributing editor to the magazine, focusing on labor issues.

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