But one objects that these one-percenters — the Steyer brothers, the Sean Penns, the George Soroses, the Paul Krugmans, the Al Gores, etc. — are very few. Yes, but these few million are enormously influential, given that their money and ideologies are manifested not just in nice homes, vacations, and perks, but in public venues, movies, universities, newspaper editorials, NPR, PBS, the major networks, foundations, PACs, political donations, etc.
I leave you with one final paradox. Is one reason that Obama resonates so well with the very wealthy his assurance to them that the muscular successful classes will not be following them into the elite?
Whom does the liberal elite detest? Not the very poor. Not the middle class. Not the conservative wealthy of like class. Mostly it is the Sarah-Palin-type grasping want-to-be’s (thus the vicious David Letterman jokes or Katie Couric animus or Bill Maher venom).
Those of the entrepreneurial class who own small businesses (‘you didn’t build that’), who send their kids to San Diego State rather than Stanford, who waste their ill-gotten gains on jet skis rather than skis and on Winnebagos rather than mountain climbing equipment, who employ 10 rather than 10,000, and who vacation at Pismo Beach rather than Carmel. The cool of Obama says to the very wealthy, “I’m one of you. See you again next summer on the Vineyard.”
Obama signals to the elite that he too is bothered by those non-arugula-eating greedy losers who are xenophobic and angry that the world left them behind, who are without tastes and culture, who are materialistic to the core, and who are greedy in their emphases on the individual — the tea-baggers, the clingers, the Cliven Bundy Neanderthals, the Palins in their Alaska haunts, and the Duck Dynasty freaks. These are not the sort of successful people that we want to the world to associate with America, not when we have suitably green, suitably diverse zillionaires who know where to eat in Paris.
Finally, Obama has “cool.” Or what his wife calls “swag.” The very wealthy are with him also because he instructs them how to indulge, to ignore the problems of others, to be narcissistic and self-absorbed with a veneer of hipster cool. Golf, shoot hoops, wear shades, hang with Jay-Z and Beyonce, talk about your rap menu on your iPhone, fluctuate your cadences, do you Final Four predictions — all that means you can be cool and very rich and very self-absorbed while fooling hoi polloi and feeling great about your privilege at the same time. If you are a jean- and T-shirt wearing Silicon magnifico, Obama is your guy. The palatial estate, the imported cars, the indulgent hobbies — they are not really one-percenter excesses (try water skiing for that), but the swag that assures others that outsourcing, offshoring, tax-avoiding, lobbying, and insider cronyism are just part of the hip deal.
Before we reach November of 2016, we will see unimaginable things under this administration, but one of them will not be a defection of his constituencies.