This controversial book describes how the New Elite-a self-selected class whose members believe they know what's good for the rest of us-has been systematically attacking our tradition of majority rule. The capture of our political parties by extremists, campaigns based on anger rather than issues, laws created by unelected judges, congressmen immune from defeat, and an alienated and ignored electorate-all these represent a calculated effort of a new class to replace the public will with its own.
Who are the New Elite? They are, Lebedoff asserts, the self-proclaimed "smartest people in the land," a test-score "meritocracy" that believes that the consent of the governed has been made obsolete by the SAT. If presidential hopefuls such as Howard Dean appear to represent this new class, or to disdain traditional values, he will be rejected by a public less fearful of Bush's ties to the elite of wealth than by dominance of the anti-democratic new elite. The New Elite is as much about perception as substance, Lebedoff further claims, citing Al Gore's defeat to George Bush as representative of the rejection of someone who sounded like a member of the new class.
Dean faces the same problem-maybe more so, because the real fight is not between liberals and conservatives but between those who believe in majority rule and those who believe in rule by experts. By revealing the causes of our retreat from democracy, The Uncivil War helps us learn how to regain the right to govern ourselves.
David Lebedoff is the author of numerous articles and several books of social and political commentary, including The New Elite. He lives in Minneapolis.