Charles Cooke at the National Review has stirred up controversy with an essay about a certain class of elites who display some of the trappings traditionally associated with nerdiness (such as wearing glasses or showing a superficial interest in comics and science fiction), and then use that guise to promote liberalism and condescendingly dismiss other ideas.
A lot of the reaction to the essay has focused on whether Cooke unfairly questioned the nerd credentials of a number of liberals. But there’s an important distinction to be made. The problem isn’t really with pseudo nerds, but with nanny nerds.
There are no doubt, on both sides of the ideological spectrum, the type of people who saw the latest J.J. Abrams reboot of the "Star Trek" series and went around describing themselves as nerds — which, yes, is incredibly annoying to those of us who grew up attending Trek conventions and contemplating how to make Romulan Ale. But this is really beside the point.
The issue isn’t whether there is a class of people who use their self-declared nerd status to act as if they're smarter than everybody else. The issue is whether they believe that this professed superior knowledge means that others shouldn’t be trusted to make their own decisions, and that instead, a powerful government, staffed with the right kind of nerds, needs to be making those decisions on behalf of everybody.
The problem isn't those who discuss the potential effects of rising obesity, it's those who want to ban trans fats and large sodas. It’s those who want to tell everybody not only that they have to purchase health insurance, but that they have to purchase a certain type and amount of health insurance. It’s those who believe bureaucrats in Washington should be dictating what is taught in everybody’s local classroom.
Though the U.S. Constitution was written by a group of elitists, the authors set up a federal government of limited powers and delegated the rest to the states and to the people — an effort to guard against this type of bureaucratic meddling and nanny nerdism.