Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Presidential plutocracy, loser edition

Following up on the prior post on this topic, I thought of looking at the almost-presidents, the general election opponents. Generally won't look at primaries but I'll make an except for Hillary, since she came pretty close and is likely to run again. Related question: do rich background candidates tend to beat poor background ones?

I also realized that Truman, LBJ, and Ford all initially became president via the Vice Presidency, and Ford never won an election. Should I be looking at VPs? Meh, too much work.

Romney: his father was chairman and president of American Motors, plus a governor and presidential candidate (who got hassled over being born in Mexico, hah); I'm going with born rich. (His father worked up from poverty, and seems to have been a decent person.) Went to a prep school for privileged kids, then Stanford, then BYU. Lost to the poorer Obama.

McCain: father and grandfather were 4-star admirals. Went to prep school, then Annapolis. Wealth unclear just from Wikipedia, but definitely secure and comfortable. Lost to the ??? Obama.

Hillary Rodham: father was a successful textile businessman, and she grew up in the affluent north suburbs of Chicago. Affluent, possibly rich. Went to the sort of public schools you get up there, then Wellesley. Lost to the maybe poorer Obama; hard to compare "grandmother was VP of a bank" with "small businessman with a factory".

John Kerry: father was a diplomat who'd gone to Phillips Academy, Yale, and Harvard Law. "Although the extended family enjoyed a great fortune, Kerry's parents themselves were upper-middle class; a wealthy great aunt paid for Kerry to attend elite schools in Europe and New England." Went to Yale. Lost to the richer Bush.

Al Gore: born to a Rep and future Senator. Worked on the family farm, but went to a prep school, then Harvard. Definitely affluent and advantaged. Lost to the richer Bush.

Bob Dole: father ran a small creamery. During the Depression they moved to their basement and rented out the upper floors for money. Worked as a soda jerk as a boy. Went to state university. I'm going with not desperate but not rich. Lost to the probably even poorer Clinton.

Bush I: lost as an incumbent to the way poorer Clinton.

Perot: no real chance, but his father was a commodity broker; Ross went to private school, junior college, then Naval Academy. Advantaged, not rich?

Michael Dukakis: father was an obstetrician; Mike went to Brookline High School (affluent suburb of Boston), then Swarthmore. Advantaged, not rich. Lost to Bush.

Walter Mondale: born to a Methodist minister and a part-time music teacher. Public schools, liberal arts college, state university, too poor for law school without the help of the GI Bill. Hardly even all that advantaged. Lost to Reagan, of possibly slightly less modest background.

Carter: lost to Reagan; comparable backgrounds?
Ford: lost to Carter; ditto?

George McGovern: father was a Methodist pastor. "Joseph McGovern's salary never reached $100 per month, and he often received compensation in the form of potatoes, cabbages, or other food items." George went to a small Methodist college and lost to the probably slightly better off Nixon.

Hubert Humphrey was born in a room over his father's drugstore; father was mayor and town council member, but this is in a town of 600 people. Struggled in the Depression, and Hubert had to leave state college after one year due to money, though he later return after having worked in the family pharmacy. Lost to Nixon.

Barry Goldwater: father's family had founded the largest department store in Phoenix; Wiki calls them comfortably wealthy. Went to elite private school, then state college for a year, before joining the family business. Lost to LBJ, who was much poorer but had a college degree.

Nixon: lost to the much richer JFK.

We now reach the point where I don't even know who was running. Except for Dewey, everyone knows Dewey.

Adlai Stevenson II (1956 and 1952): famous political family; his grandfather was VP under Cleveland, his father Sec'y of State of Illinois. Upper class family of Bloomington, Illinois. Went to good public and private schools, then Princeton and Harvard Law. Lost to Ike, who'd been too poor to go to college. Twice, as he got the nomination both times; I guess that simplifies things.

Thomas E. Dewey, immortalized via headline in statistics classes everywhere! Led the now extinct liberal/moderate wing of the GOP who supported the New Deal and United Nations. "his father, George Dewey, owned, edited, and published the local newspaper", in a town that currently has 15,000 people. Went to state college, then Columbia Law. I'll go with moderately advantaged. Lost to Truman, who slept in a hobo camp and never went to college.


Conclusion: that saying about how anyone can become President? It seems to have been true that the Presidency drew from a socioeconomically diverse set of white male Christians; we have multiple elections featuring dueling obscurities, at least as late as 1984 Reagan vs. Mondale, or 1996 Clinton vs. Dole. Even the 2008 Obama vs. McCain may have lacked a candidate from a specifically rich background (compared to the Bush, Kerry, or Rodham families.)

Rich candidates basically start taking over in 1988 and 1992, with Bush I, then 2000 and 2004, with Bush II, Gore, and Kerry, then Hillary in 2008 and Romney in 2012. And it's not clear that Gore and Kerry were all that rich; Kerry's parents weren't, though he benefited from family money. Hillary's not clear either. The real background money is with the Bushes and Romney.

The last up-from-struggling candidates were Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, 1996.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/399391.html#comments


Damien Sullivan

Latest Month

December 2018


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner