It is a hot summer day, and I am ready to start the New Year. And so I am cleaning out some old and discarded things, piece by piece. And one of those is the term "Coastal Elite", which we will hopefully not hear too much about in 2018, but that we have had to hear, bandied about, for much of 2016 and 2017.
I should probably give you a definition of this term before explaining it, but I can't because "Coastal Elite" means nothing. I will instead talk about why this term is used. In 2010, the United States had what was called the "Tea Party Movement", which I can't really explain as anything beyond a wave of vague resentment. In 2011, from the opposite end of the spectrum, came another movement, called Occupy Wall Street, which was equally if separately full of vague resentment. Occupy Wall Street managed to get one piece of information in people's minds. Despite its failure to convey a coherent message or connect it with policy positions that people would support, Occupy Wall Street did get people to remember "The 1%", the top 1% of income earners who control the United States. So on two sides, resentment became a politically undercurrent of the 2010s.
And here is where the "Coastal Elites" come in. They exist as a target for this vague resentment, and as the resentment is vague, so is the identity of these people. The resentment is both cultural and economic, and depending on the position of the speaker, you can perform a shell trick where you transfer anger from one to another. It is true that hedge funds are incomprensible vehicles that seem to make billions of money out of thin air for a few people. Therefore, you should hate people who don't like to eat at Applebee's. Its true that the 2008 recession was caused by people gambling on mortgage security derivatives, a financial fiction that meant millions of people lost their homes. Therefore, people who don't stand for the national anthem during football don't understand real Americans.
"Coastal Elites" is a term that originally meant to refer to a very small number of financial and business leaders, but now can be used to refer to anyone that causes a nagging feeling of cultural inferiority. Hedge fund billionares. People who speak French. Vegetarians. Stockbrokers. People who don't watch network television. Government employees. People who drink microbrews instead of Bud Light. Illuminati Assassins. Homosexuals. European royalty living in a penthouse apartment in New York City with 23 parrots. People who own a Velvet Underground album. Anyone who owns a bowtie. People who collect Laserdiscs. Jews. Muslims. Probably The Pope. The meaning has been so altered that a person making $100,000 a year in suburban Long Island can probably look at a minimum wage waitress in Denver who is studying Japanese, and call her a "Coastal Elite".
The term being meaningless, it is being retired for 2018.
Incidentally, anyone who wishes to avoid being a Coastal Elite can do so by engaging in the type of activities that a typical resident of a tiny heartland village like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania or Charlotte, North Carolina does regularly: laundering organized crime money through a series of shell companies to support an opulent lifestyle of tailor-made suits and luxurious condos. This type of activity, like eating baloney sandwiches and driving a pick-up truck, is just one of the things that the arrogant coastal elites can't understand.