July 28, 2019

Social scientist Paul Piff conducted a very interesting experiment using the game "Monopoly," to see how people would react if one of the players was given advantages over the others. The results were what you might expect: the person with the advantages got more aggressive and felt more entitled to their success.

Using money games (in which some were given more money than others), jars of candy (reserved for sick children), and even hidden camera experiments with real automobile traffic (which cars were more likely to obey the law — stop at a cross walk — for a pedestrian), results of all of these showed a general tendency for wealth and hierarchical status to increase one’s sense of entitlement (and are “more likely to prioritize self-interest over the interests of others”) …while simultaneously decreasing one’s empathy and concern for others.

It's a fascinating aspect of human psychology. The better off you are, the more you feel you earned your privilege, no matter how many advantages you were given. Those who aren't as successful as you are simply less deserving, less willing to work for their success, and are merely envious or grasping to begrudge you all your hard work. Social scientists refer to this mindset as the "Empathy Gap"

Keep that in mind as we turn to Maureen Dowd. Last week, Dowd hosted a party at her Georgetown home for The New York Times correspondent Carl Hulse, whose book on the Supreme Court was just published. Dowd consulted her considerable rolodex to invite the movers and shakers of Washington DC. MSNBC regular Howard Fineman tweeted this.
The response on Twitter was not kind. Elected politicians attending a cozy cocktail party with those who are supposed to hold them accountable is EXACTLY the kind of swampiness that the rest of America is tired of (and this is as much a criticism of Schumer and Pelosi as it is of the media). Fineman deleted the tweet.

"Benign big shot brag" is a telling phrase, isn't it?

Maureen Dowd took it further, using her The New York Times column, that most privileged of privileged platforms, to excoriate the unwashed masses for daring to question her "regular gal" status.

[T]his week, lefty Twitter erected a digital guillotine because I had a book party for my friend Carl Hulse, The Times’s authority on Capitol Hill for decades, attended by family, journalists, Hill denizens and a smattering of lawmakers, including Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Susan Collins.

I, the daughter of a D.C. cop, and Carl, the son of an Illinois plumber, were hilariously painted as decadent aristocrats reveling like Marie Antoinette when we should have been knitting like Madame Defarge.

Yo, proletariat: If the Democratic Party is going to be against chocolate, high heels, parties and fun, you’ve lost me. And I’ve got some bad news for you about 2020.

The progressives are the modern Puritans. The Massachusetts Bay Colony is alive and well on the Potomac and Twitter.

"Yo, proletariat"? Seriously? The condescension is just dripping from the person who literally owns JFK's Georgetown mansion. And if you have to reach back to compare yourself favorably to Marie Antoinette, you may want to revisit your common man appeal.

I'm the first one to say that purity politics is an issue on our side of the aisle, but to actually use column inches in the nation's paper of record to claim that criticizing the coziness between journalists and elected officials is the reason we have Trump, because there are all these silent masses that are more concerned with false accusations of aristocracy and privilege is laughable. And like the Monopoly experiment, it belies an attitude that pretends that Dowd has no advantages that regular Americans couldn't dream of.

Gonsalves' entire tweet thread is well worth your time. You can read the entire thing here.

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