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September 02, 2010 06:26 PM UTC

Let them eat cake? A blue blood vs. the common man.

  • by: H-man

One of the themes in the Colorado Senate race is class.  No I don’t mean whether Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Buck had any when they both showed up at Andrew Romanoff’s birthday party.  I mean class in terms of strata of society.  

Senator Bennet is an incumbent who has never previously run for office.  He was appointed or given the office much like he has been given other things in his life.  A member of the aristocracy, tracing his American roots back to the Mayflower as he proudly recounts on his Wiki entry and preparing for his posting by serveing as a congressional page while attending prep school in Washington DC, not county.

Ken Buck had a more mundane path to his party’s nomination to run for the US Senate.  He traces his Colorado roots back to a shoe repair store his grandfather had in Greeley in the earlier depresssion, the one in the 1930’s. Economic strife tends to emit a sentiment of populism in the air which has not historically been a good thing for a blue blood.

There is an interesting op-ed in today’s Washington Post written by one of my favorite commentators, George Will.… He offers his thoughts about the personal aspects of the Colorado Senate race.

He contrasts the two candidates.  Michael Bennet is cast as follows:

. . . Sen. Michael Bennet, who is a direct descendant of a Mayflower passenger, grandson of an economic adviser to Franklin Roosevelt and son of an official in the Carter and Clinton administrations. He attended tony St. Alban’s school in Washington and Yale Law School.

Ken Buck is described in this way:

Buck is a Princetonian.

But to erase the stain of privilege, Buck stresses that his family, although hardly poor, was frugal — “No, you won’t get a Happy Meal, you’ll get a burger.” And he worked in a Princeton cafeteria and later as a truck driver, ranch hand and janitor, so there.

A large man with close-cropped gray hair, he was a college football player talented enough to get a tryout as a punter with the New York Giants. Having, perhaps, an unslaked appetite for blocking and tackling, he became, after years in business, a prosecutor in Weld County, north of Denver. Explaining his Senate candidacy, he says: “I was in law enforcement for a long time and had seen how politicians had screwed up, so I decided I couldn’t do worse and might do better.”

Both backgrounds and experiences of Bennet and Buck play differently to different audiences.  Given the make up of a Colorado electorate, as opposed to the Saint Albans prep school, is it any great surprise that Buck is ahead?


20 thoughts on “Let them eat cake? A blue blood vs. the common man.

  1. One time he didn’t get a toy with his fast food! That’s just like people who grew up with unemployed parents. Clearly he knows what suffering is!

    My parents used to scrounge for change in the couch to pay for my dinner. My mom sent me into the Burger King with a jar full of pennies to buy a hamburger once. And you’re going to tell me Buck knows what hardship is like?

    Buck went to Princeton. I would have loved to go to Princeton. I went to a state school on partial scholarship and still had to get a bunch of student loans to pay for it–student loans I probably wouldn’t have gotten if Buck had gotten his wishes.

    Fuck Buck.

    1. But do not worry the mayflower-descendant who has been given the Senator job, like much else in life, feels your pain.  He will give you something and present the bill to your children so they can have less than you, even though he too feels it is immoral to do so.

      I expect Buck does not know hardship in the way you do.  I expect Bennet has never worked as a janitor or ranch hand like Buck has either. Each of our senses of reality is based on our life experiences.  

      Apparantly you feel a kinship with the mayflower-descendant.  I expect he was not standing next to you with a jar of pennies at Burger King.

      1. It’s really not about class envy. I’m pretty successful now. But unlike Buck, I can also look at other people who haven’t made it and think, “If a few things had gone slightly differently in my life, that could have been me.” That reminds me that I have an obligation to make sure people get basic services like health care. Sure, I get my health care almost for free through my job, but that’s what makes me a really lucky guy.

        Buck’s view is that anyone who isn’t well off must have done something to deserve it. That government shouldn’t be helping anyone who hasn’t already helped themselves. Bennet, whatever his upbringing, is at least capable of showing some compassion for people worse off than he’s been.

        Unlike you. Did you seriously write a three-paragraph post making fun of me for growing up without much money, after writing a diary about how much Bennet sucks because he grew up rich? What’s wrong with you?

        1. Buck’s view is that the government’s role is not to redistibute wealth.  Call him a radical. Most people agree with him on that, just not the current DC crowd.  

          The point of the comment about Bennet not standing next to you at Burger King was to point out his life experiences in that regard were different than yours, not to make fun of you, but I suspect you know that.

          If the background mantra’s were reversed, say like in the Treasurer’s race with Stapleton/Kennedy are you telling me I would not be hearing about Stapleton being related to Bush and therefore not being able to feel your pain, so to speak?

      1. Just saying that Princeton is nicer in some ways. Not so dependent on the politics of state funding, nicer facilities, professors teaching low-level classes instead of graduate students, etc. Many of these things don’t really matter to a student who wants a good education, but they add up to a more comfortable experience.

  2. Isn’t it kind of pointless to hold elementary school education and family ties against candidates (except maybe Ben Quayle)?  What choice did Bennet have in where his folks sent him to kindergarten, or in choosing his Mayflower-sailing ancestors?  So what if he comes from a long line of diplomats and public servants?  And, good for Bennet and Buck for getting into good colleges (and good for George Will for making it into the not-so-shabby Trinity College – one of the Little Ivies – as it surely gave him rich perspective on haves and have nots.)

    Yeah, Bennet’s and Buck’s experiences are different but it’s not like either of them has been a slacker since reaching adulthood.  I like Bennet’s resume and I think Buck has done some decent things in Weld County – especially the Angie Zapata case.

    The Blue Blood/Common Man argument is silly – neither of these guys had substandard education and both have more money than they need now.  They’re both privileged and I want to know how they’re going to use that privilege now.

    Will probably does them both a disservice with this op-ed.  He doesn’t add anything that we didn’t know about Bennet.  But, saying Buck got into politics with an “I couldn’t do worse and might do better” rationale isn’t exactly inspiring to either blue bloods or common men.

    1. It makes no sense when the arguement is Hey kids, work hard, save, invest iin your and our country’s future, do better than your parents and grandparents, BUT when you do suceed be prepared for everyone to hate you because of it. Or if not hate, shun.

      I don’t care where the candidate went to school nor what he studied- I care what he learned.

      I don’t care whom he worked for – I care how he well he did his job.

      I don’t care what kind of shoes the candidate chooses, nor whether they have holes or bullshit on them.  I care whether he understands what it’s like to be in my shoes.

  3. So what that his maternal grandmother was descended from a Mayflower passenger?

    Perhaps we’re related because my family came to the same area around the same time.  Though no one ever referred to me or my family as “aristocracy” because of that.

    Who cares?

    1. and it didn’t help them during the depression when some of their babies died from starvation and cold.

      The Buck strategy is hillarious. Republicans feigning populism is like Bill Clinton feigning fidelity (but maybe a tad bit more transparent).

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