Posted on | June 23, 2014 | 25 Comments
“Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition, is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others. To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.”
— Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
That passage of Burke has become famous for the phrase “little platoon,” but is not usually quoted in context. Certain neoconservatives have made the “little platoon” a synonym for the family, whereas Burke was explaining a particular phenomenon, i.e., decadent French aristocrats who supported a revolutionary movement that was clearly hostile to the interests of the aristocracy. The clearest analog in our own era is rich liberals whose wealth is derived from the system of free market capitalism, a system toward which their political activism is profoundly hostile. Resisting the temptation to write an entire essay on the topic, let me show its relevance to today’s headlines.
This is astonishing to most people. The Clintons are millionaires many times over, and yet they’re not “truly well off”?
In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Clinton was asked whether she could be a credible champion for fighting income inequality in the United States despite her wealth.
“But they don’t see me as part of the problem,” she told the paper, “because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.” The Guardian wrote that Clinton let off “another burst of laughter” in answering the question, suggesting that she found the question “painful.”
Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have earned well over $100 million giving paid speeches and writing books since leaving the White House in 2001.
What’s going on here is that Hillary is caught between her lifelong allegiance to the Democrat Party — with its propaganda mythos of being for “the little guy” — and the reality of her own success. Politics can be a very lucrative business, and she and her husband have parlayed their investment in liberal politics into a fortune, or at least, what most people would consider a fortune.
The typical Democrat voter looks at a number like $100 million and can only think of hitting the lottery as a way to get it. But the Clintons haven’t gotten where they are in life by hanging around typical Democrat voters. Successful politicians spend most of their time in the company of the rich and powerful and, quite naturally, view their own financial situation in comparison to the power brokers and big-money donors whose support they must routinely solicit.
How many fund-raisers has Hillary Clinton attended at the homes of the ultra-rich? How often has she visited the palatial mansions of billionaire moguls and those who inherited their wealth? She has seen first-hand the Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless and, comparing her lifestyle to theirs, she knows that collecting $100 million since 2001 — “through dint of hard work,” you see — is chump change compared to the vast fortunes some Democrat Party donors have.
If you want a glimpse into politics of the “truly well off,” take a look at Lachlan Markay’s Free Beacon story, “Democracy Alliance Donors Finance and Help Run Obama Advocacy Group.” This is a follow-up to an article Lachlan did last month, after finding a copy of a Democracy Alliance document that got lost at the Soros-backed group’s spring conference. It’s the Politics of Daddy’s Money:
[Democracy Alliance donor Amy Goldman's] fortune comes from her status as heiress to one of the largest real estate fortunes ever amassed. Goldman’s father, Sol, owned nearly 600 New York commercial real estate properties when he died in 1987. At one point, he owned the famed Chrysler Building.
The ensuing legal battle over his $1 billion estate was at the time the largest ever to take place in New York’s Surrogate Court, more than doubling the previous record.
Amy Goldman has since become one of the Democratic Party’s largest individual campaign contributors. Goldman has donated more than $6 million to Democratic candidates, party organs, interest groups, and independent expenditure groups since 1990. . . .
Another benefactor of a massive inheritance that appears on DA’s new partner list was donating tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats while he was still in school.
Philip Munger is the son of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman and Warren Buffett lieutenant Charles Munger, whose estimated net worth is $1.2 billion, according to Forbes. Munger the younger is a professor at the New School in New York City. Despite living on an educator’s salary, he also manages to donate vast sums to Democratic politicians.
Munger has shelled out more than $700,000 in political contributions since 1990, all to Democrats or liberal interest groups. He donated $46,300 while he was still a student, according to FEC forms that require donors to disclose their profession. . . .
More inherited wealth will likely flow through DA from Henry van Ameringen, heir to the International Flavors and Fragrance fortune. Van Ameringen is another massive Democratic donor. He has donated more than $900,000 to Democrats since 1990.
Van Ameringen was the 21st largest individual contributor to 527 “political action committees” in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He is the ninth largest donor to those groups in the current election cycle.
Much of van Ameringen’s political activity is aimed at promoting gay rights. He attended a $35,800 per-plate fundraiser for Obama in 2012 that solicited support from wealthy gay and lesbian individuals. The event raised an estimated $1.4 million for the president’s reelection.
See? None of these rich liberals gives a damn about the poor. Instead, the decadent offspring of the ultra-wealthy typically favor trendy “boutique” causes like environmentalism and gay rights that don’t do anything to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
This helps explain why Hillary Clinton doesn’t see herself as “truly well off.” Whatever her faults, she comes from a middle-class background and is not one of the idle rich who have the luxury of playing around with Daddy’s Money. The Democrat Party historically has won elections by claiming to look out for the interests of the “little guy,” and the only way to sustain that partisan mythos is by political rhetoric that demonizes the rich. So Hillary is caught in a trap: On the one hand, she has gotten rich by being a Democrat and her 2016 ambitions require her to continue soliciting money from rich Democrat donors. On the other hand, she must pretend she’s not part of that demonized fictional category of rich people who don’t “pay ordinary income tax.”
It’s absurd, but liberal rhetoric has been so absurd for so long that most people scarcely even notice the absurdity anymore.
However, it does explain why I’m not a liberal: I can’t afford it!