Americans have long admired wealthy people who have risen from nothing to make themselves financially successful. There is a good reason that Horatio Alger’s “rags to riches” stories in the nineteenth century were still popular in the twentieth century. It’s the American Dream to make good use of the opportunities available in our economy.
Count me among the admirers of those who have succeeded. My critique of conservative and libertarian wealthy people in my articles this week has to do with their acumen when it comes to the political arena. I have seen it time and time again: A smart rich person steps over into politics and the same good sense they used to build a business evaporates.
Just one example is a conversation I had with a wildly smart and successful entrepreneur about how the personnel problem is the major problem within the Republican Party. To illustrate my point to him I drew a parallel between the kinds of people he hires for the various jobs within his company. His personnel department and the managers of his company look for high quality talent for every post.
The conservation didn’t get very far. The man lost his temper, raised his voice, and said, “Leave my company out of this!” Don’t think that’s an isolated incident — wealthy people who are politically right of center don’t seem to understand some of the most basic elements of politics. There is no other explanation for why big money donors continue to support the poorly led GOP and countless candidates that they would never hire for their own businesses.
Now you might say, “Hey, they don’t have time to be making sure good people run the Republican Party or to be recruiting better candidates. Just like the rest of us they’re stuck with the guys and gals who step up to fill a GOP position or run for office. And even if they did have time is it up to the rich guys to figure out what works in politics?”
I’m glad you asked. To the first point, they do have time. These are serious times and a few more days tending to their country and a few days less spent on vacation or on the golf course are in order. To the second point, uh, I’m sorry, but “how to succeed in politics” isn’t some hidden code or the property of some Skull and Bones type organization.
Anyone who has studied success — and this country provides countless examples in nearly every field of endeavor — knows that a good part of it is looking at who has already succeeded so you can copy what applies in your case. You do so in order to avoid failure.
Okay, guess what? In politics we see success. All we need to do is look at the political left. Their progress is all around us: social decay, near economic collapse, and low information voters in abundant supply. How did they do that? They controlled information flow and won people over to their failed policies through irrational emotional appeals.
Are we supposed to also use irrational emotional appeals? No. We’re trying to sell the opposite policies so we can appeal to emotion and reason by using facts and the evidence of history. The key part of this whole picture, though, is voter contact. The left does it, the right doesn’t. And voter contact costs money. And our side will have to spend a lot of it to overcome the political left’s allies that control the press, taxpayer funded education at all levels, and all forms of pop culture.
This all might sound simple. Well, it is. That’s why I say that liberal rich people are smarter than conservative and libertarian rich people. If those of us who count amoung the poor or middle class can see it — why can’t the rich guys and gals on our side?
Up next: The infamous story of Tim Gill and “The Colorado Model.”
(First published October 2013)