Opinion: Is America Ready for a Rich White Man As President?

Ward Room columnist Edward McClelland often employs satire to make larger points. This is one of those times. Please read it with satire in mind.

Rich white men have done some great things for this country. Henry Ford, who was of Irish descent, popularized the automobile and provided his workers with a standard of living never before enjoyed by factory workers. John D. Rockefeller, a Franco-American, invented the modern oil industry. Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant, used his steel fortune to build beautiful libraries in small towns all over America.

I would never denigrate the contributions of rich white men to America. And I applaud the Republican Party for nominating one. But I’m not sure that means this country is ready for a rich white man as president. Why? First of all, the rich white male experience is very different from the experience of the average American. It is estimated that rich white men make up only one half of one percent of the U.S. population. Some would even say their lifestyle is alien to mainstream America.

Not only are rich white men far more likely to travel to foreign countries, many of them have homes in foreign countries. Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, who is worth $8.3 billion, owns property in England, China and his native Australia. While only 22 percent of Americans fly on a plane every year, Murdoch owns his own Boeing 737. Murdoch also has six children by three different women, which is not unusual in rich white male culture. Actor/director Clint Eastwood, a rich white man who spoke on behalf of Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention, has seven children by five women. Perhaps it’s a stereotype, but rich white men don’t share the values most of us consider essential to stable families.

It’s not Mitt Romney’s fault that he’s a rich white man. He comes from a long line of rich white men. His father, George, was president of the Americans Motors Corporation. His great-grandfather, Miles Romney, was a polygamist who was married to five women at once, an archaic rich white male practice which has been replaced by marrying five women in succession.

It’s possible that Americans will be seen as prejudiced if we don’t elect Romney, especially since he’s running against a half-black man who grew up in an apartment, and never lived in his own house until he was 44 years old. I think the time will come when we’re ready for a rich white man as president. In fact, I hope it happens in my lifetime. Perhaps Romney’s candidacy will pave the way for another member of his people. But I just don’t think he’s the right rich white man for the job.    

 This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.

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