Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I recently received an odd-shaped envelope in the mail with a fancy-looking invitation inside, a big, royal blue RSVP scrawled across the bottom of it in great, loopy letters. I had a Welsh lady friend once who got a similar-looking card from the Lord Chamberlain inviting her to a reception at Buckingham Palace. But mine promised nothing so glamorous as tea with the Queen. Mine was from the good people at the usually slightly less than glamorous ACLU, cordially inviting me to join them in their fight for justice. For a nominal fee, of course. Very classy.

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of left-wing junk mail (infinitely better than right-wing junk mail, but junk mail nonetheless), due, my guess is, to the fact that a friend got me a gift subscription to the New Yorker last Christmas. It’s not widely advertised, but a subscription to the magazine entitles you to full membership in The Liberal Elite. Suddenly you find yourself invited to dinner parties in Manhattan, hobnobbing with other Limousine Liberals, chatting over mini-muffalettas and bottles of Dom. Romanée Conti about the crisis in healthcare coverage and how, tragically (but business is business), it’s paying for your next get-away to Mauritius. Unfortunately, I have nothing to wear to these little soirées. And if you’re not in Fioravanti, the doorman won’t let you up.

Honestly, I always thought all the talk on the right about some Illuminati, Star Chamber-style Liberal Elite was hokum. Like the lurking Gay Agenda, it was fodder for paranoids and conspiracy freaks. But this fancy invitation from the ACLU’s got me wondering.

It’s not that I object to the mission of the ACLU, which for nearly a century has served a vital function responding to near-constant assaults on our Bill of Rights. What disturbs me is the way the ACLU and the left in general have set about wooing me, not with tough talk about the hard slog, but with champagne and canapés.

I mean, we’re talking social justice here, not some Cinderella Ball. And who needs an engraved invitation to jump on that bandwagon? All the sudden a bandwagon’s not good enough? The ACLU seems to think we need a chauffeured Bentley. Aren’t the obvious benefits of social justice inducement enough to contribute to the cause of freedom?

Well, apparently not. These days it’s all about the bling-bling. Politics is just another accessory: shall I wear the sapphire brooch or the ruby tierra tonight? The notion of national politics as fancy dress ball is great for our new class of American Aristocrats, on both left and right. But for those of us busy paying the tab and mopping up after them?

I crashed one of those chichi parties during the DNC. As security led me out I heard two well-dressed guests sniggering behind me.

One remarked to the other with a feigned yawn: “Did you hear? The class war is on again.”

The other laughed, adding: “And the enemy is us."

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