If you haven’t figured it out yet, the red states differ from the blue ones. The city dwellers are different from the folks who live in the country. And the rich, as F Scott Fitzgerald put it, are different from the rest of us. So, when one of them says something nice about Donald Trump, listen.
Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, probably made many of the other one-percenters uncomfortable recently by admitting Trump had been “kind of right” about many things.
“Just take a step back and be honest,” he urged his fellow autocrats. Trump “was kind of right about NATO. He was kind of right about immigration. He grew the economy quite well. Tax reform worked. He was right about China.”
That’s quite a statement. And he didn’t hedge by backing Joe Biden afterward. If it’s a shift, it’s significant because Dimon, like his fellow one-percenters, has an outsized influence on what America does and what it talks about.
He and those like him are influential in the political arena, finance, the media, business, academia, and the other so-called “talking professions’ to an extent not achieved by the country’s rank-and-file. Dimon and those like him are conversation starters and decision-makers who can keep America on the right track or send it off in the wrong direction.
Their influence cannot be underestimated. What they believe affects all of us. What they encounter in their daily lives, what they are concerned about, and what occupies their time shape and guide the national conversation in ways the experiences and cares of ordinary Americans do not.
Polling conducted for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and released as a report, Them vs. U.S., shows how, in many essential ways, these elites are different from the rest of us.
In the area of personal financial security example, the data showed nearly three-quarters of these elites – defined as people making over $150,000 a year with at least one post-graduate degree who live in a high-population density area – said they are better off today than when President Joe Biden took office.
The economy has improved lately, and unadjusted growth last quarter broke the 3% mark. Biden consistently gets poor marks for handling it, no matter how many “think pieces” Paul Krugman writes for the New York Times explaining why people should feel better about it and him. He neglects how the inflationary spiral sparked by Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has made things more expensive.
Real wages are down over the long term. People are forced to buy less with more. That’s likely why most ordinary Americans surveyed for the study said they were worse off now than they were in 2021.
The differences are not limited to kitchen table and pocketbook issues. As to climate change, something that occupies us all these days, 70% of the elite said they would pay $500 or more annually in higher taxes and costs, “up to whatever it takes,” says pollster Scott Rasmussen, who constructed the survey. Among average Americans, $100 or less per year was as high as they would go.
Members of the elite go on television and talk about climate crisis solutions that cost billions, even trillions of dollars over many years, and kill jobs with a straight face. A person who’d end up with their air conditioning rationed in the hot summer months and in the cold in the winter when the windmills freeze doesn’t get on TV very much. As a result, the conversation isn’t balanced.
The elite American is three times more likely than the average American to say we enjoy “too much individual freedom.” That’s worrisome, since a large number of them endorse rationing of meat, gasoline, and other essentials – but curiously, not the construction of coal-fired power plants in China. Maybe because the one-percenters have an easier time getting around the rules they set for everyone else than the rest of us do.
America is two countries living side by side, on top of and next to one another. One consists of people holding views common to middle- and working-class voters. The other is comprised of people who consider themselves more public-spirited and virtuous than the rest of us and talk about politics more. They’re separated by status, income, education, and neighborhood, not political parties. Some very smart folks have missed that, which may be why they also can’t understand Trump’s appeal to the working man and woman.
They need to get outside their bubble once in a while.
Copyright 2024 Peter Roff distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Peter Roff is former U.S. News and World Report contributing editor and UPI senior political writer now affiliated with several DC-based public policy organizations. He writes for numerous publications and appears regularly on international television talking about U.S. politics. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TheRoffDraft.