In another win for the famously blind meritocracy that rules American life, rewarding the ultra-talented and pushing the less brilliant and skilled into the outer darkness, Chelsea Clinton has landed a coveted position at NBC News. This was almost as much a surprise as her admission to Stanford; one can only marvel at the sheer guts and talent that have enabled her to overcome our society’s fixed aversion to giving a chance to the relatives of the rich and the prominent.
On a more serious note, I know of no reason why the younger Ms Clinton should not have this or any job. But the increasing sense that this country is run by a hereditary celebrity class is one of the most corrosive and dangerous forces eating away at our common life.
The children of famous politicians could do our country an immense service if they sought out ways to serve that were more low profile. This would be particularly true for the children of extremely rich politicians.
It might be argued that it is unfair to expect a wealthy, smart and well connected young person to sacrifice natural ambition for the common good. But surely the poor and obscurely born also have to eat their share of the world’s injustice. Maybe the rich and famous could also have a small taste?
This is not a point that will often be made in our celebrity crazed, wealth obsessed culture. It should be, and it is a sign of the deep trouble we are in that it isn’t common wisdom. Meritocracy is not the same as nepotism and the mix of media, money, celebrity and politics, while to some degree inevitable, is also toxic and should be taken in the smallest possible dose.