"How can you believe that? It's so stupid." One common theme running through American discourse is the idea that the left, and all of it's currently accepted articles of faith, are smart or the smart decision. The right is dumb. This is not new, as President Eisenhower was portrayed as dumb in his contest with Harvard Law dropout (failed multiple classes) Adlai Stevenson. It's a smear as well as a shaming tool to get people to your side. It's also a defensive weapon for our current elites. Our left leaning elites need to stress their smarts because they cannot give any ground to the idea that maybe they are a new aristocracy that demands obedience on ideological grounds or, even worse, nepotism just like other historical aristocracies.
Our Ivy league schools are diverse but not on socioeconomic grounds. That isn't anything new. The major emphasis, not just on the Ivies but in all of America, is the idea of a meritocracy. If you work hard enough or are smart enough, the system will pull you in and reward you. Legacy admissions, athletes, affirmative action admissions, Asian student ceilings, etc. all cloud the idea of Ivies, think tanks, and other tickets to the good life and power being meritocratic. This is why they stress their intelligence so much. This is why "it's the smart decision" is used. They can't hint at any other factor, which could be discriminatory, is the cause of their success. Society supports this. The rise of nerd culture. The valuing of tech familiarity vs. inexperience. Horn rimmed glasses are in style after decades of signifying dork-loser. These are little admissions that intelligence is the winner. This then bleeds into all manners of politics as no one wants to be considered an idiot. "How can you believe that, it's so stupid?" It's quite an effective way to convert people when you don't have facts or any historical pattern on your side.
There is a problem. There are limited spots in the power hierarchy. There are limited funds to share. What if people don't get their golden ticket? If you don't make it, then by their rules, you weren't smart enough. The system is completely fair. Everyone has a chance. You just failed! Oh no! What do you do? You're dumb. That's the worst thing you could possibly be. Oh wait. We have an entirely separate concept to help you cope with that. Here's your participation trophy. It's a good system and pay no attention to its rampant nepotism. You just didn't quite meet the cut, but don't be mad at or overthrow our system because you're you. You're special and unique, just like everyone else.