How are you to know you are special if you are just like everyone else, or at least the top percent of everyone else? As libertarian Brad Bird said in The Incredibles, if everyone is special, nobody is special. Most people must be below for a few people to rise above. There must be poor so some can be obscenely rich.
The problem is that growing numbers of people are experiencing the imperfections of free markets right now. The industries that supported their parents have disappeared. They see no path to the financial security that Americans once felt. So what if the market liberals are perfectly correct? So what if this impersonal system of specialization and exchange has produced the greatest flowering of prosperity, health and opportunity in human history? That's small comfort to those Americans who are not feeling prosperous or healthy. That's small comfort to the Americans who have lost opportunities while others have gained them.Higher taxes could lower your social and economic standing, something that is all-too-likely these days. Free college would ruin the experience for everyone else; the schools would be crowded and an elite education would be far less prestigious and unique. Your kids didn't work that hard to let everyone else just waltz in. Income inequality, as Megan McArdle reminded us, is difficult to eliminate when the rich are very happy with their circumstances and see no reason why those circumstances should change.
This time is "the greatest flowering of prosperity, health and opportunity in human history." Nobody who counts wants that wonderful, perfectly balanced system to be thrown into chaos by socialists. Don't they know that the only thing keeping the mob and violent individuals from killing people is the firm hand of the upper class, enforcing the suppression of public anger, maintaining income inequality, and enforcing political impotence?
Added: Our elite tell us we live in a meritocracy while doing everything humanly possible to eliminate competition for themselves and their children.