It always seemed the elephant in the room to me that all candidates for the American presidency were rich. How did they make their money and why did you have to be wealthy to run for office in the first place?
Then I remembered reading the newspapers when I used to live in India and being struck how all the politicians there seemed to be overweight – in a land where millions are hungry, who would vote for someone who couldn’t feed themselves?
Kurt Vonnegut wrote with some eloquence about the derision Americans feel for the poor and how they refused to acknowledge how hard money is to come by unless you’re already born to a position of relative privilege.
‘The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
So it seems to be with American presidents. If they can’t even make themselves a few million, how would they be able to make the country rich (great) again?
Indeed, Trump’s supporters often mention his success in business (born into a wealthy real estate family) as part of his qualification to be president, and somehow they hope the juice will trickle down to them, even as he begins by giving tax breaks to the ultra-rich and cutting healthcare to the most needy of the American population.
Crow tells Scarecrow that though America has never had a ‘gay, female, atheist, disabled president but sometime this millennium we will’.
What greater taboo could there be in a country like America than being poor?
And yes, we owe the last line to American Beauty, a film directed by an Englishman. Sometimes it takes the outsiders to see in clearly..