Now that I am focusing on writing again, submitting my short Strange Creatures to a Sci-Fi magazine, I’ve decided that I needed to read books again. I have a few books that I started but never finished. This year, I got back into reading thanks to The Lose Your Belly Diet by Dr. Travis Stork. I continued by finishing Chris Hayes’ book, Twilight of the Elites.
This being Haye’s first book, which I did pre-order, I was looking forward to reading it and I almost finished the book in the month it came out. Distractions prevented me from finishing until a few days ago. I’m happy to say the book is fairly unbiased for the most apart. Yes Hayes’ solution to fixing institutional corruption, inequality, and other issues have a liberal feel in the book, but the decline of American institutions are discussed in a fair and balanced way.
Twilight of the Elites is a fairly unbiased account of why Americans have lost faith in their institutions. The fact is, be it government, corporation, religious institutions, or anything else, there has been a trend of the failure of our most trusted institutions. This has led to a frustration and mistrust of authority.
Hayes carefully examines many of the institutional failures over the past few decades. He explains how elite-think has failed and why major leaders from various sectors of American life have failed to do what the American people want or have failed to do their duty.
Hayes suggests that social distance plays a major reason leaders have acted unethically, committed certain illegal acts , or made catastrophic mistakes. Social distance refers to the disconnect between two groups. For example, the wealthy often do not understand the plight of the poor or middle class, because they don’t interact with those economic groups. The biggest takeaway I had from the book was that many of these so called elites lacked empathy and understanding of the people they were trying to serve. Hayes effectively points lays out how social distance impacts the public. Clearly, we all need to have a better relationship to each other, rich and poor.
Imagine you are a powerful leader. You have many advisors and friends helping you to make the right decisions. Now imagine they are all “yes men” and never question your thinking or your decisions. If everyone is always telling you what you want to hear, you can’t be an effective leader since you may not feel the need to question your own ideas. While it can be frustrating to be challenged often, it has its’ benefits.
I feel Twilight of the Elites It’s an insightful read. You may not agree with how Hayes would solve the problems of our failing or inept institutions, but the reasons Hayes lays out for why they fail make sense. The sad truth is, even with a merit-based society, there is still an unbalance with who reaps the rewards. And even though we imagine the smartest, best candidates should have leadership roles, they often are far removed from the common man and lack the understanding and empathy to serve them.
The book isn’t a major downer, like I have mentioned there are solutions to the problems of institutional corruption and failures. The solutions from Hayes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he does have a cautious optimism. Clearly we can find ways to solve the biggest issues facing the United States and even the world, but we have to find a way past the dangerous partisanship effecting our country before we can get back to solving the big problems.