As a career FSO, I became “elite” when I passed the test. I came from a working-class background, but my career choice made me different. There is no way around this. In order to do my job well, I had to be different from most Americans. Different, not better.
I was acutely aware of this and addressed it. Like many of my colleagues, I spent lots of time traveling in the U.S., talking to people. I drove across the U.S. a total of five times, and that does not count the many smaller visits. I also own rural land and keep touch with my neighbors. They know things I want to know and I learn a lot from them.
Am I an average American? No. I am MORE connected with America than the average American. As a result of my effort, I have been around more of America than most people. I have great respect for my fellow citizens. I recall talking to ranchers in Texas who explained foreign trade to me much better than I could explain to them. (State Department send me there to explain. I was explained) I studied it; they lived it. I learned from truck drivers about our transport system and spoke with foresters fighting invasive species, a downside of globalization. This aspect rarely comes up in discussions of trade.
I love America. That is why I joined the Foreign Service. I wanted to help tell America’s story and be part of it. And I know that Americans are great from experience. Some government workers think others are morons. Most of us know better.