Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thomas Frank: Withering on the Vine

A tale of two democracies

Were you to draw a Venn diagram of Democrats, meritocrats, and plutocrats, the space where they intersect would be an island seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard.

A little bit smaller in area than Staten Island but many times greater in stately magnificence, Martha’s Vineyard is a resort whose population swells each summer as the wealthy return to their vacation villas. It is a place of yachts and celebrities and fussy topiary, of waterfront mansions and Ivy League professors and closed-off beaches. It is also a place of moral worthiness, as we understand it circa 2016. The people relaxing on the Vineyard’s rarefied sand are not lazy toffs like the billionaires of old; in fact, according to the Washington Post, they have “far higher IQs than the average beachgoer.” It is an island that deserves what it has. Some of its well-scrubbed little towns are decorated in Puritan severity, some in fanciful Victorian curlicues, but always and everywhere they are clad in the unmistakable livery of righteous success.

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