Jim Webb, George Washington University speech (Nov. 15, 2016):
Hopefully the results of this election will provide us an opportunity to reject a new form of elitism that has pervaded our societal mechanisms. This is not quite like anything that has faced us before in our history. It has many antecedents but the greatest barrier, even to discussing it, has come from how these elites were formed, largely beginning in the Vietnam era, and how their very structure has minimized the ability of the average American even to articulate clearly and to discuss vigorously, the reality that we all can see.
Part of it was the Vietnam war itself, the only war with mass casualties – 58,000 American dead and another 300,000 wounded – where our society’s elites felt morally comfortable in avoiding the draft and excusing themselves from serving. As I wrote of a Harvard educated character in my novel Fields of Fire, “Mark went to Canada. Goodrich went to Vietnam. Everybody else went to grad school.” This created, among our most well-educated and economically advantaged, a premise of entitlement that poured over into issues of economic fairness, and obligations to less-advantaged fellow citizens. Writer and lawyer Ben Stein wrote many years ago of his years at Yale Law School with Bill and Hillary Clinton, “that we were supermen, floating above history and precedent, the natural rulers of the universe. … The law did not apply to us.”
Part of it was the impact of the Immigration Act of 1965, which has dramatically changed the racial and ethnic makeup of the country while keeping in place a set of diversity policies in education and employment that were designed – under the Thirteenth Amendment – to “remove the badges of slavery” for African Americans. This policy designed for African Americans, which I have supported, was gradually expanded to include anyone who did not happen to be white, despite vast cultural and economic differences among whites themselves. More than 60 percent of immigrants from China and India have college degrees, while less than 20 percent of whites from areas such as Appalachia do. But to be white is, in the law and in so much of our misinformed debate, to be specially advantaged – privileged, as the slogan goes, while being a so-called minority is to be somehow disadvantaged.
Frankly, if you were a white family living in Clay County, Kentucky, one of the poorest counties in America, whose poverty rate is above 40 percent and whose population is 94 percent white, wouldn’t this concept kind of tick you off? Wouldn’t you see it as reverse discrimination? And wouldn’t you hope that someone in a position of political influence might also see this, and agree with you?
And part of it, finally, is that diversity programs, coupled with the international focus of our major educational institutions, have created a superstructure, partially global, that on the surface seems to be inclusive but in reality is the reverse of inclusive. Every racial and ethnic group has wildly successful people at the very top, and desperately poor people at the bottom. Using vague labels about race and ethnicity might satisfy the quotas of government programs, but they have very little to do with reality, whether it’s blacks in West Baltimore who have been ignored and left behind, or whites in the hollows of West Virginia. Behind the veneer of diversity masks an interlocking elite that has melded business, media and politics in a way we could never before imagine. Many of these people also hold a false belief that they understand a society with which they have very little contact. And nothing has so clearly shown how wrong they are, than the recent election of Donald Trump.
— Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA)
Webb on Fox News (11/15/2016)