President Trump recently told supporters in Cedar Rapids, “I love all people—rich or poor—but in those particular [Cabinet] positions, I just don’t want a poor person.” The President asked rhetorically, “Does that make sense?” Actually, it doesn’t.
Why does a President of the United States believe poor people are disqualified from serving?
Candidate Trump promised to drain the swamp. Seems we made an assumption about what that meant when we should have asked him to define what he meant by “the swamp.”
If you’ve been to a swamp, you know the calm waters on the surface are deceptive. They hide the alligators and poisonous snakes lurking below. A swamp may appear calming but you’d never want to dive into their waters.
So, when you heard candidate Trump say he’d drain the swamp, didn’t you figure that once he was President, the water would be gone and once exposed, the alligators and snakes would crawl and slither off? Did anyone caught applauding that catchy campaign slogan really think that once the water was gone that the alligators and snakes would not only remain but reign?
There they are. The same predators who have always roamed Foggy Bottom. Trump wanted voters to believe he was promising to rid our government and Washington politics of the influence of the rich and self-serving well connected. We erroneously figured he’d heard the concerns of the common folks who are frustrated by the power wielded by those he called “the elites.”
When Trump used the “draining the swamp” metaphor, many of those who lined up to vote for him pictured a coming together of a government to which folks on main street could relate and a government that could relate to folks on main street.
Instead, as the swamp was drained, the alligators and snakes flourished. They proudly took over the swamp. Why? Because they are a part of the social and business circle in which this President is comfortable. The President is at home with these swamp dwellers. He got rich being one of them.
Rich people don’t bother him. Poor people do. What he told the Cedar Rapids crowd is that he isn’t comfortable with poor people. He wants to be surrounded by aristocrats and oligarchs now as he has been all of his life. Jesus may have said “the poor will always be with you,” but Donald Trump said, “Not with me, they won’t.”
When it comes to putting people in charge of “Making America Great Again,” he is clear. “I just don’t want a poor person.” Why not? What’s wrong with poor people, Mr. President?
Does Trump figure that if they’re poor, they aren’t smart? What’s the difference between Trump and many poor people? It’s not IQ. It’s not a willingness to work hard? It’s not found in what each knows or doesn’t know about what it means to struggle for their family and community’s well-being.
The major difference between many poor people and Trump is that he had a daddy who could bankroll his life.
When I was the director of the Wyoming Department of Family Services, I made a concerted effort to get to know those we served, poor and low-income families across Wyoming. I learned that false stereotypes animate conservative policymakers. Seeing people as poor because they are lazy, incapable, or make bad choices leads to bad public policy.
Professor Jay Zagorsky conducted a study at Ohio State University. His conclusion? “Your IQ has no relationship to your wealth. Intelligence is not a factor for explaining wealth. Those with low intelligence should not believe they are handicapped, and those with high intelligence should not believe they have an advantage.”
Having a close advisor who has experienced poverty might make Trump a better man and a better President.
If Trump really wants to drain the swamp, he needs to understand this. People may become a part of the swamp just because they are rich, but people don't become rich just because they are smart.”