A case study in alcohol consumption, or, beer and the cultural chasm that separates America's ruling elite from its white working class.
In the Charles Murray quiz "How Thick Is Your Bubble," the conceit is that America's ruling class, including journalists like me and cosmopolitan readers like you, exist in a cultural bubble. We distance ourselves from ordinary Americans, especially the white working class. "Many of the members of the new upper class are balkanized," Murray writes. "Furthermore, their ignorance about other Americans is more problematic than the ignorance of other Americans about them."
He's largely right. I've never lived in a small town, worked on a factory floor or ended my day with a sore back. That matters. Our country would benefit if influential Americans better understood folks with less influence. But I dissent from what is implied by asking, "During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?" The notion that my kitchen's lack of Bud*, Miller, or Coors betrays my bubble is completely upside down.
Professor Murray might agree if given the drinking histories of the people he labels elites. Here's mine. At 18, I sipped my first beer -- Keystone Ice from a freshly tapped keg -- when a Berkeley frat guy gave it to me on a college visit. Foamy and tepid, it tasted awful, but a Solo serving got me buzzed. The following night, up in the freshman dorm of a former high school classmate, I sipped my second and third beers: Coors Lights from glass bottles, which I remember due to our paranoia. It was a dry hall, and my friend thought that if we so much as clinked bottles together an RA might burst in and expel him from university housing.