The real problem is that elitists believe ordinary people are mainly driven by emotion - especially fear - and self-interest. It therefore makes little sense to try to win them over through discussion and debate.
The elitist's trick is to connect with them on issues in a way they understand, which usually means playing to their fears or offering them rewards - which seems to be the government's approach.
Not just this government, but most governments, and certainly all Political Parties.
There's something of the notion of a small group of adults trying to reign in and direct a group of unruly children, i.e. the electorate. The assumption in this, of course, is that they (the elected officials by virtue of their title, the partisans by virtue of their beliefs, the political operators by way of their unquestioned sense of superiority) are better than us (everyone else).
This is where the true problem lies. The superior that feels they have nothing to learn is doomed to fail; bosses aren't leaders and top-down management places pressure on the base while hollowing out the pinnacle. Collapse, either partial or complete, is inevitable.
Leaders don't assume they have the answers; they have vision and direction and serve to mobilize and empower. Leaders act as prisms, harnessing the best of everything the people bring to the table and channeling it into unified action. There are few, if any, true leaders on our political landscape.
But then there are the Masters. These come along once in a generation, tapping into a vein of universal, accumulated understanding that best reflects the "public wisdom" Preston Manning sought.
The secret they uncover is not a public wisdom but a social, natural syncopation that penetrates and informs all life and interaction that surrounds us, penetrating us, binding us all together.
These Masters don't talk, they act - and are often seen as tricksters for this. In truth though, experience the world through eyes reborn with wonder. They become the world itself.