Tag Archives: presidents

Practical politics?

Walking home from the metro station this evening, I thought of an interesting question. I don’t know the answer to the question, but perhaps someone does. My question is:

In this day and age, is it a practical possibility that a middle class person, making the average income for a family in the U.S. run for and win the presidency?

The best figure I could find for average family income in the United States is about $70,000 per year. I ask this question because to me it seems nearly impossible. Everyone who runs for president either comes from wealth or has substantial self-made wealth. But they also seem very disconnected from reality. They don’t know the cost of a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. Besides, it seems that you need lots of money even to run a campaign. In much the way that real estate in some parts of the country are out of the reach of people who reside in those areas, I wonder if there is a practical minimum income that would give someone a fair chance at winning the presidency. It would be an interesting study I think, in part because it would narrow the types of professions one could have. Doctors might make enough money (Howard Dean); lawyers make enough (Bill Clinton); businessmen make enough (the Georges’ Bush); actors make enough (Ronald Reagan). But could, say, a stevedore make it? Could teacher? Or an administrative assistant?

Given my knowledge of presidential history, the last president to come from nothing and to run for president while still having very little was Abraham Lincoln. Subsequent to Lincoln, a case may be made for Ulysses S. Grant. But that was then. If they were alive today, I’m not sure they would have made it. I think that the dream that anyone can be president is just that: a dream; and the first hurdle that must be overcome is having the money to do it.

I’m just curious what that income threshold is.

Gerald Ford

Of the 7 U.S. Presidents that have been in office since I was born, Gerald Ford is the one about which I know the least. He was the first President to come into office after my birth (Nixon was President when I was born.) I have read biographies of Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. I am familiar with both Bush’s as I have had the opportunity to vote against each of them. That leaves Gerald Ford as the one mystery. I don’t know if he was a good President, or if he was a less exaggerated version of how Chevy Chase portrayed him on Saturday Night Live. I know that he pardoned Nixon, something with which I have philosophical problems, but which I also am told helped to “heal” the nation and put Watergate into the past. If nothing else, he was a life-long public servant, and that has to count for something.

The one piece of trivia that sticks most in my mind with regards to Gerald Ford is that he is the answer to the following trivia question: “Who is the only person to serve as both Vice President and President, and yet was never elected by the people?”

Utter humiliation

Browsing blogs this evening, I came across one of those quizzes. This time, it was “Which president are you most like?” I tried to answer the questions honestly, and I don’t know how this could possibly have happened, but I ended up as, well, see for yourself…

You Are Most Like George W. Bush

So what if you’re not exactly popular? You still rule the free world.
And while you may be quite conservative now, you knew how to party back in the day!

If anything, I was trying for John Adams, Jimmy Carter, or Theodore Roosevelt, three of my favorite presidents.

I think this is the last time I am ever taking an online quiz again. I feel dirty.