From Fay Vincent Jr. in The Wall Street Journal, Elite Is Not a Four-Letter Word:
While the fine old word “elite” has become a pejorative, its official definition has not changed. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines elite as “a group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.” With that definition in mind, who would not want to be called elite? Yet to be accused of being an elite is now akin to being identified as evil, if not criminal.
Many Americans now view “power, talent and wealth” as accretions of systems that confer status in unfair ways. To them, an elite person achieves his status by birth at the expense of others. Critical American institutions—such as the country’s best universities or nongovernment organizations—are now being criticized with these ideas in mind. Calling these places elite paints them as inherently undemocratic aeries where only self-selected eagles are able to roost. Only rarely, critics allege, does the system award elite status to those who do not have the advantages of birth, education or talent.
I am guilty of disparaging elites in many of my posts. There is no doubt that running a complex enterprise that is the modern nation requires education and knowledge that few possess. But it also requires humility and sincere empathy for those affected by policies. Mere credentialism is not enough. While ignorance will not correct mistakes made by the educated, we must understand that pseudo-intellectual ideas cause far more problems that mere ignorance. It is not what we do not know that causes great problems; it’s what you think you know that isn’t so.
The elites have become more isolated physically and mentally from those that face the impacts of their decisions. The more power and decision making shifts from the local to central authority the greater this problem becomes.