“In fact, our lives when you look over the last two decades more closely approximate the lives of the average voter than any of the other candidates,” Obama said.
He continued, “We’ve struggled with paying student loans. We’ve tried to figure out whether we have adequate daycare. I’ve actually filled up my own gas tank.”
Until his recent rise to political fame, and the $4.2 million in book royalties he earned last year, his life was probably closer to the existence of most Americans than McCain who has been married to money for decades, or the Clintons who have piled up cash since leaving the White House.
However, the reality of money’s importance in American politics means that none of these candidates are, “regular people”, so what is really being debating here are degrees of insulation from everyday life. In order to be a serious presidential contender, any candidate has to either have money or be connected to it in order to rise up the ranks of elected politics.
Only in American politics would the candidate who has been recently close to the average life be considered an elitist, and the candidate who has had Secret Service protection for the last 16 years be the populist. It can be argued that no one has been insulated from the lives of average Americans more than Hillary Clinton.
To me, Obama’s now infamous remarks spoke to his lack of experience in dealing with rural voters. In the relatively short time Obama has been in politics, he has been an urban politician. In this context, his remarks were fairly common. There is a rural/urban political divide in this country. Each group has different concerns, and doesn’t relate to the other well.
Obama can learn rural politics, but Clinton and McCain will still be wealthy and clueless when it comes to most of our daily lives.