Americans Have Lost Faith in Their Institutions | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Yuval Levin during a Newsweek podcast debate on American elites. You can listen to the podcast here:

The question of what an elite is gets to the challenge that every democracy faces. Every society has an elite. In every society there are some people who rise to positions of power, wealth, privilege and authority. In every society there is some organizing principle by which you can describe them as rising, whether that's who their parents are, what their religion is, what kind of education they had, or where they are in the culture.

Something that describes what holds the people who are in positions of leadership and authority in a society in common, that's the elite. The elites are those people who run our institutions for good or bad.

A democracy always has trouble with an elite, but no society has ever been free of an elite.

U.S. Capitol
The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building—where Congress meet—is seen at sunrise on February 8 in Washington, D.C. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Yuval Levin, director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at AEI.

The views in this article are the writer's own.