Bush vs. Kerry - American Aristocracy Contest?
March 2, 2004 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Excuse my naiveté: is Bush vs. Kerry the first modern presidential contest between two members of the American equivalent of the aristocracy? Call them patricians, preppies, rich kids, "old money", members of the upper or property-owning class; whatever. What does this mean, if anything? It looks significant seen from old Europe. [Given that Kerry is, like the Kennedys, a Catholic, I suppose WASPs no longer mean much in this respect.]
posted by MiguelCardoso to Law & Government (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gore was the son of a senator, and old money too, i thought. Carter and Clinton and Nixon and Reagan weren't. Don't know about Ford. It means that political power in this country still resides in a very small group of people, i'd say.
posted by amberglow at 8:30 PM on March 2, 2004

Good question. I've always hated primogeniture, so the current state of affairs depresses me.

I think amberglow has it right that Bush vs. Gore would be more apt...and considering that it was kind of hard to tell them apart half the time, I think it's dead on. Kerry married old money though...I think Bush vs. Kerry is the first authentic "old money" election, and a sign of things to come.
posted by taumeson at 8:35 PM on March 2, 2004

well, Kerry married someone who married old money. His family is interesting--a real mix (Mother's side old Boston money, and father's recent immigrants.)
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on March 2, 2004

Kerry's background is also Boston Brahmin. Doesn't get more establishment than that. Gore-Bush was a similar match. We had a long stretch of commoners or nouveau rich types, but this was par for the course before Truman, I'd say. But note that "aristocracy" in America is a metaphor. We do not have an aristocracy or royal or noble blood. We do have a plutocracy, but that's another matter. The so-called aristocrats here are typically the grandchildren or great grandchildren of self-made tycoons. We may have gentry, but they have not been landed for many generations. We are not really like the Europeans in this respect. Everyone here thinks that tomorrow he or she could strike it rich and become a big shot. It's a delusion but we hold it dear. No titles for us.
posted by Slagman at 8:55 PM on March 2, 2004

Depends on the meaning of the term "modern." The last one was in 1932 when it was Hoover v. Roosevelt.

(The Gores have had tons of money for a couple generations, for sure, but not like the Bushes or Winthrops.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2004

George Washington was the richest President. Kennedy second (in adjusted dollars.)
posted by the fire you left me at 10:02 PM on March 2, 2004

psst. they're also both BONESMEN.
posted by fishfucker at 10:19 PM on March 2, 2004

one wonders why if kerry came from power and influence - he wasn't about to use family influence to dodge being sent to vietnam ... like certain other former substance abusers???
posted by specialk420 at 11:31 PM on March 2, 2004

ps what's right with kerry? - david corn
posted by specialk420 at 11:37 PM on March 2, 2004

George Washington was the richest President. Kennedy second (in adjusted dollars.)

Why did you leave out that a President Kerry would be the Third? That is and was the point of the article you linked to.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:50 PM on March 2, 2004

because "the fire you left me" is a victim of terrible liberal bias and he's trying to obfuscate the fact that W is a real man of the people with humble origins and war hero, while Kerry is an elitist rich wimp, Steve. that's why!
posted by matteo at 1:24 AM on March 3, 2004

I'm not sure there's much of a lifestyle difference between having $500 million and having $50 million. You're still pretty freaking rich.
posted by PrinceValium at 4:36 AM on March 3, 2004

You're kidding, right?
posted by johnnydark at 4:53 AM on March 3, 2004

I'm not going to MeTa this for various reasons, but this is a bad question for Ask Metafilter and the general tone of the "answers" has borne this out. Miguel, if you're looking for a discussion, is there no other place you can go? AskMeFi is best at closed-end fact-finding, and at sharing experiences with places, products, services, etc. A political discussion is just completely inappropriate here. Consider this a vote to delete this whole mess.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:54 AM on March 3, 2004

well, i'd cut MC some slack. i didn't know that the last "aristocratic" presidential race was hoover vs. roosevelt. you learn something new every day, and i think his question was apt. it might be a little too discussion oriented, but what about the question about circumcision?

"stupid Flanders, thinks he’s so smart..."
posted by taumeson at 6:37 AM on March 3, 2004

Kerry will win. He's taller and meaner.

Meanwhile - research shows that class mobility in the US is now less than in Great Britain.
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2004

gee miguel for a political science person, you sure are ignorant of american presidents. Wait, your not from america. Hmmm, maybe you could have used google to get a thumbnail bio of each president, ever consider that miguel, actually researching something. but do not worry dear Miguel. Sen. Boney and mrs. ketchup pack will not get one filthy claw upon the White House.
posted by clavdivs at 8:18 AM on March 3, 2004

In a naive and foolhardy attempt to rescue this thread with actual information, here's an interesting site with the genealogies of the Presidents. Included is a descendant chart for William the conqueror, leading to several Presidents, links to other royals, and charts of cousins of the Presidents, including George W. Bush. Given that GW is related to at least 22 previous Presidents, I'd say the "patrician" nature of the current race is hardly unique.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:26 AM on March 3, 2004

Miguel: Kerry found out a few years ago that he is in fact part Jewish. This could get interesting. And almost every US presidential campaign comes down to two white (so far non Jewish) males with the connections to gather zillions of dollars in campaign support.

Herbert Hoover's vice President, Charles Curtis, was part Kaw/Kanza Indian. That's about as diverse as the US executive branch ever got.
posted by zaelic at 9:27 AM on March 3, 2004

Kerry found out a few years ago that he is in fact part Jewish. This could get interesting. And almost every US presidential campaign comes down to two white (so far non Jewish)

Barry Goldwater was part Jewish. he was a Protestant convert but his paternal grandaddy was a Polish Jew named Goldwasser
posted by matteo at 9:51 AM on March 3, 2004

Just out of idle curiosity; has there ever been a bald US president?
posted by malpractice at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2004

has there ever been a bald US president?

5-seconds Google
posted by matteo at 12:02 PM on March 3, 2004

Matteo- That's so weird; the list you found omits famous baldy Eisenhower--who wasn't 100% bald, but did bear an uncanny resemblance to a baby, even in uniform.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:56 PM on March 3, 2004

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