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The Other Other Half (Rich, liberal Dems)
The American Prowler/The American Spectator ^ | 9/26/03 | Shawn Macomber

Posted on 09/27/2003 5:52:44 PM PDT by jocon307

Political Hay

New Hampshire -- In 1890, journalist Jacob Riis published a detailed and devastating portrayal of poverty, How the Other Half Lives. On a blindingly bright summer day, along a meticulously manicured lawn, I found today's other half in a most unlikely place: Durham, New Hampshire. And more than a couple of them are running for president. There, and in dozens of "house parties" in the Granite State, they crowd in the huddled but fashionable masses and tell dire tales of woe while people munch on foie gras and quaff champagne.

The poverty of today is a well-hidden scourge. It's a lesson I learned traveling to several of these Democratic gatherings sprouting up all over the state this past year. I was leaning on a rocking horse in an Exeter home one evening not so long ago, waiting for Howard Dean to breathe some life into the party. Suddenly, the lady of the house glanced at me from across the room, her eyes widened, and she beat a path through the crowd toward me, index finger extended.

"Can you please not sit on that, it's an antique," she said, tugging at her sweater set. "And, by the way, who are you writing for?" The little notebooks give you away every time, and to the limousine libs in the room, it may as well have been a billboard that read: "Card carrying member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." In fact, I was stringing for a left-leaning local paper.

Before I could answer, another man, in a Brooks Brothers suit, marched up and demanded to be heard. "The core issue nobody wants to talk about, not even Dean, is we need to start the process of liquidating the assets of the fat cats in this country and get about redistributing the wealth," he sermonized. It gave me a flavor of the steroid addled populism of the campaign to come.

As summer became fall, and Dean became Gephardt, and then Edwards, and then Kerry, and then Kucinich, the tales of woe intensified. Day after day, I showed up, holes in my shoes and a bank account nearing empty, to hear lectures about how President Bush and "the rich" were taking food out of the mouths of sweet poor babes. Except, these populists were not so poor. In some of the poshest neighborhoods in the state, standing in houses that cost four hundred grand if they cost a dime, the candidates led a boo-hoo chorus, with the full participation of enthusiastic college students and Lexus driving, antique furniture collecting, middle-aged counter-insurgents.

It occasionally got downright bizarre. Multi-millionaire trial lawyer John Edwards assured a crowd in Portsmouth he felt deeply the economic woes of "ordinary people," despite his own vast fortune, hard won from chasing ambulances up and down the street. He understands the working class, he explained, because his father worked in a mill. "I hope we still believe in an America where the son of a mill worker can beat the son of a president," Edwards said.

After the speech I asked Edwards if maybe he was a bit too bearish on the economic state of the nation. "People like my sister and brother-in-law are still suffering," he replied. Members of his family, Edwards explained, are getting on only by the grace of God and a union card.

The question arose: Why should the sister of a multi-millionaire son of a mill worker be suffering? Couldn't he find it in his heart to cut her a check, or roll up his sleeves and give her a hand? But such objections were beside the point: the point being to strike a pose that was more populist than the other guy.

Gephardt, for his part, stresses his humble upbringing as the son of a milk truck driver. The Teamsters put food on his table, and his dad loved the union for it. Dick's brother remembers dinner differently. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "My father was in the Teamsters, but that’s because he had to be to get the job. I don’t recall him talking much about the union, how great it was. He prided himself on being a Republican. He hated Harry Truman. He had the feeling you had to make it on your own, that any kind of welfare program would just raise taxes." Like the fall prone props in Plan 9 From Outer Space, such details were incidental to the larger story of private hardship and the public good.

The others? Dennis Kucinich, though well compensated for his time inside the Beltway, grew up poor, and claims to be poor still. He must be applying the same budget prowess to his personal finances that he used to bankrupt Cleveland. Bob Graham is a humble rancher who -- cough! -- owns a Jaguar. And when John Kerry isn't tearing up over the tragic lives of today's poor, or contending with Al Sharpton for the jailhouse vote, he's a living advertisement for an economic development plan which has brought him so much success: marrying the wife of a rich, dead Republican.

Conspicuously absent from the proceedings, of course, were the traditional poor -- i.e., people who actually have no money, and who are, therefore, icky. The poorest people at these soirees were the reporters covering them. As someone whose income last year registered well below the poverty line, I always harbored hopes that some of this enthusiasm for wealth redistribution would prompt the partygoers to take pity on us poor ink-stained wretches. Alas, it never happened.

Maybe it was the monotony of these events, or perhaps the sheer disingenuousness of it all: rich candidates telling rich people that they're going to (wink, wink) fleece the rich -- really get those bastards this time. But the more house parties I covered, the more I felt something welling up inside. More than once, I had to suppress the urge to push the candidate off his podium and deliver a message straight from the trailer parks:

Cry all you like for us from the verandas of your summer houses, eating piles of organic crackers that cost more than most of us spend on groceries in a week. It won't make us trust you. Most of you have never been poor. You live extravagant lives and pontificate about how today's Romans, some phantom mega-rich class, stand in the way of true equality for all.

Well I've got news for you: You are the Romans. Your fight has little to do with the poor, and everything to do with your fragile '60s hippie self-image; finding a justification for your own excessive lifestyle.

If you stopped yakking about trendy causes like "social justice" or "inequality" and put your money where your mouth is; if you gave to charity the money you blow on marble countertops, BMWs, $6 loaves of organic bread, and Democratic presidential candidates, what a world this could be!

As I said, it was an impulse I suppressed, usually by tearing into an assortment of crackers and cheese. After all, I needed the income that stringing provided. For all their talk of equality, the rich may be different from the rest of us in one very important way: They can afford to say any old thing that comes out of their mouths.

Shawn Macomber is an intern at The American Spectator. He runs the website Return of the Primitive.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: New Hampshire
KEYWORDS: hypocrisy; liberals; limousineliberals; politics
I know these people. My beloved Aunt & Uncle are New Hampshire Dems, late of Boston.
1 posted on 09/27/2003 5:52:58 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jocon307
Before I could answer, another man, in a Brooks Brothers suit, marched up and demanded to be heard. "The core issue nobody wants to talk about, not even Dean, is we need to start the process of liquidating the assets of the fat cats in this country and get about redistributing the wealth," he sermonized.

Sounds great. Let's start with those bourgeoise who can afford Brooks Brothers suits, Comrade.

2 posted on 09/27/2003 5:57:28 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Make a Jazz noise here)
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To: jocon307
I know a few of these types, too. Wouldn't give you the sweat off their brow (if they ever do sweat) unless it made them look more fashionable than the next rich liberal.

Great article.

3 posted on 09/27/2003 6:00:17 PM PDT by Aracelis
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To: jocon307
I know 'em too. Once they get tenure, they give some great parties in some pretty ritzy places while they hold forth on the cruel rich.
4 posted on 09/27/2003 6:03:16 PM PDT by wizardoz
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To: jocon307
Boy, this guy writes like Jim Goad, only cleaned up a little.
5 posted on 09/27/2003 6:10:14 PM PDT by wizardoz
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To: jocon307
Only too true.
6 posted on 09/27/2003 6:18:59 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: jocon307
My husband has worked security during Republican fund raiser's here in our community. The politicians who attend these fund raisers have been very nice and respectful towards him. He even had his picture taken with Al Domato to which was sent to my husband through the mail and they even had it framed for him!
7 posted on 09/27/2003 6:25:09 PM PDT by Arpege92
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To: jocon307
It has always amazed me...

People move from MA to NH for the lower taxes and greater freedom. As soon as they get there they vote for the same kind of left wingers they voted for in MA, and are surprised to see NH slowly but surely becoming like MA.
8 posted on 09/27/2003 6:30:15 PM PDT by swilhelm73
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To: jocon307
Nice piece of writing. He really nailed it with the marble countertops, BMW's and $6 loaves of organic bread. People of this stripe that I've known have never known any real hardship and it shows.
9 posted on 09/27/2003 6:42:31 PM PDT by Think free or die
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To: jocon307
Rich liberals are one of the great mysteries of American politics. Perhaps not having a strong "working-class" socialist movement produces a unreal atmosphere that encourages leftist gestures by the upper and upper-middle class. Unconsciously, rich liberals may think that the country is so unlikely to go socialist that such radical gestures will have no real consequences. But this phenomenon is also seen in other countries that do have more prominent class war traditions.

Maybe many rich people are married to artists, activists, or social workers who are critical of the market system that allows them to earn their wealth. Or perhaps social liberalism is a luxury good that the rich can enjoy, and the rest of the ideological package comes with it. Arguably, too, this is all a result of the liberal takeover of the universities, which makes leftist attitudes look avant-garde or daring or intellectual to those who've been processed by prestige institutions.

Regional, religious or ethnic divisions also play a role. Some people pride themselves on coming from a more "enlightened" or "evolved" part of the country or denomination. The measure themselves against what they take to be the "unenlightened," "unevolved" masses, and assume liberal prejudices as a badge of distinction.

In any event, there's an unreal, dream-like, "radical chic" atmosphere around the whole phenomenon. It's as though they think rhetoric won't have real consequences. Suburbia itself tends to be a great buffer against the consequences of politics and social policy, so such people feel insulated against possible effects of the policies they favor.

10 posted on 09/27/2003 6:47:58 PM PDT by x
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To: x
You know, it is a mystery, these rich liberals. My own relatives in New Hampshire (I love my aunt so much, but the truth will out!) are a classic case. Completely confounding to contemplate. My uncle worked for his entire career for one of the largest corporations in this country, and probably the world, they are Irish-American Catholics (that might explain it for some, but I still don't understand), they have 5 children, and they are just liberal, liberal, liberal.

Of course, I have never challenged them on their beliefs, such as "how do you feel about abortion", etc.

My uncle did once cause my jaw to drop in his slavish praise of Clinton, but I can only hope my aunt saw through that idiot.

All I know is, my dad, brother to my aunt, was one of the most conservative/progressive people I've ever known. And acknowledged to be such within the family. He was devoid of racial prejudice, could hate the sin and love the sinner, and voted Republican for his entire life. Some of these other folks, they are on the plantation. I hope some new fangle Harriet Tubman can rescue their behinds.
11 posted on 09/27/2003 7:00:04 PM PDT by jocon307 (Moving to New Zealand soon (apologies to F. Zappa))
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To: x
Rich liberals....kind of like my very nice retired neighbor couple......they have their lawn mowed by a Mexican fellow....he works framing houses for a regular job, and on weekends does lawns....they pay him CASH. No taxes come out of that, but they'd probably whine about the "poor" and their dire straits....
12 posted on 09/27/2003 7:14:07 PM PDT by goodnesswins (Looking for a Shrugged Atlas.)
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To: jocon307
If you stopped yakking about trendy causes like "social justice" or "inequality" and put your money where your mouth is; if you gave to charity the money you blow on marble countertops, BMWs, $6 loaves of organic bread, and Democratic presidential candidates, what a world this could be!

I'd go the writer one better. I'd reuse the old leftist canard they try to foist off on us. "You have no right to talk about taxing everyone to {insert subject} until you prove that you've contributed your own money to {subject}".

13 posted on 09/27/2003 7:27:06 PM PDT by 300winmag (All that is gold does not glitter.)
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To: shawn
Some rich democrat senators:
Kennedy, Kerry, Corzine, Lautenberg, Dayton, Kohl, Graham, Roberts, Cantwell - there are probably lots more. The Democratic party is the party of the rich.
When the rich refer to the rich,they are talking about anyone who has a job since they pay the taxes.
14 posted on 09/27/2003 7:30:37 PM PDT by agite rem mente
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To: jocon307
Great article!
15 posted on 09/27/2003 7:47:22 PM PDT by lainde
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To: swilhelm73
It has always amazed me...

People move from MA to NH for the lower taxes and greater freedom. As soon as they get there they vote for the same kind of left wingers they voted for in MA, and are surprised to see NH slowly but surely becoming like MA.

Welcome to the club. This has been happening here in the South for 30 years. For instance, after Nashville's Taxachusetts-born former mayor put the city in hock up to its eyeballs and damn near doubled property taxes in his eight-year spending spree, the idiots of this state elected him Governor last year. Never thought I'd see the day my beloved Tennessee would elect a tax-and-spend damnyankee carperbagger as governor.

16 posted on 09/27/2003 8:05:39 PM PDT by Morgan's Raider
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To: Morgan's Raider
Well you got you revenge on Maine, when you sent the that tax spend idiot from Viginia north.

Must have really been for Joshua Chamberlin

17 posted on 09/27/2003 8:28:58 PM PDT by dts32041 (Is it time to practice decimation with our representatives?)
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To: dts32041
But on the bright side, we did see to it that algore wasn't foisted on the entire country...
18 posted on 09/27/2003 9:12:40 PM PDT by Morgan's Raider
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To: jocon307
Excellent article!
19 posted on 09/27/2003 9:45:01 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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To: Think free or die
"Can you please not sit on that, it's an antique," she said, tugging at her sweater set."

"The core issue nobody wants to talk about, not even Dean, is we need to start the process of liquidating the assets of the fat cats in this country and get about redistributing the wealth," he sermonized.

Shawn should have asked the fat cat if he could have the antique. "Please? Please could you redistribute this horse? Cause my car needs brakes. Whatdaya mean 'no'? I said please!"

20 posted on 09/28/2003 4:59:47 AM PDT by NYpeanut (gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, "Why did you lie to me?")
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BTTT
21 posted on 09/28/2003 2:28:09 PM PDT by Fraulein (TCB)
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