Sir, what is your occupation?
This was a few years ago, and a retail clerk had sold me on the merits of signing up for one of those brand loyalty cards. The inducement being buy ten weed-eaters and get the eleventh free, or something like that. I thought a name would be sufficient to enroll, but after that he still wanted an answer as to how I earned a living. So I gave him one.
Oh, I’m a shepherd.
He looked at me with complete bafflement.
You know, I tend a flock of sheep.
He appeared skeptical, but still dutifully entered it into the corporate archive. Presumably the information is still in use today for purposes of providing me focused marketing literature.
I was thinking fondly of shepherds today. You almost never hear of a haughty one. As far as the general personality profile, it must surely be one of the most grounded and circumspect professions. Very different from unemployed video game vloggers by my own small sampling.
I had never even considered this stark contrast in temperament between similarly modest occupations. But while perusing a few twitter spats earlier I clicked on the timeline of one of the warring parties. Its liberal owner was extremely adamant in his opinion of Trump voters, and the unimproved interior marshland in which they reside.
In an uncompromising series of tweets he presented his stern social doctrine: Indolent, obtuse, economically parasitic, and unquestionably RACIST Trump voters, and–fuck it–red states period, must stop being cuddled and coddled by benign progressive intellectuals, and instead just left to rot as one would a blackened banana. The brown people alighting on these shores do so strictly to advance the universal principles of liberal enlightenment, and it is a crime for their soaring aspirations to be trammeled by grubby white ignorance.
Moreover, Trump voters were judged unworthy of their own country’s care, attention, or even social services. Instead funding, employment, and general human dignity should be diverted to the PLENTY of more deserving peoples across the globe. As you or I might see Somalia, he sees Wyoming. Thus it is far past time to cease allowing electricians in Laramie to hold back productive urban blacks and migrating Honduran coffee pickers.
The impression given was that of a wealthy leftist ideologue whose long efforts at compassion toward his ruddy-faced philistine countrymen had finally given way to a contempt born of superior breeding. Was this Jeff Bezos or Larry Ellison? I was too curious not to find out.
So I went to his mostly dormant blog and found a post from over a year ago in which he surprisingly revealed no Silicon Valley pedigree at all. Instead, at that time, he was a recently fired, depressed, obese, diabetic who whiled away his hours writing and vlogging about video games. So you can see why he would have little patience for the conservative hoi polloi.
Upon briefly contemplating this odd dichotomy between ego and station, I came to the conclusion that the core of the matter actually had little to do with shepherds at all. It was instead about the invigorating effects of ideological fashion. And how donning the ones in style can make a poor man look down his nose like a bum in Gucci loafers.
The right could learn a great deal from this. Liberalism, particularly the sort of comically pompous strain on display in this anecdote, allows people with no viable path to feel elite. To feel superior. Both of which must be pleasantly alien sensations for many of these house moles. Thinkers and politicians on the right must be aware of how much fashion acts as an attractant, and always consider how their product will offer its own competing appeal beyond staid rationality. Most people don’t yearn to wear the best constructed shoes, but the ones their peers will notice and envy.
Sensible may appeal to shepherds. But even fat video game vloggers want to feel sexy.