Ever notice how politicians who haven’t anything much to deliver try to exploit “culture”?
When Josh Hawley, Missouri’s current Attorney General and, as of last Tuesday, the GOP candidate seeking Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s senatorial seat, was in High School, he was driven two hours round trip to the expensive, private, Catholic Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. No reason for the local banker’s son to mix with the hoi polloi in his home town of Lexington, population ca. 5000. There’s no doubt that the banker’s son’s privileged upbringing helped fit him into the rarified east coast circles, first in Yale and Stanford, and later in a high-powered law firm and the conservative non-profit that he inhabited for 15 years prior to returning to Missouri in 2011.
Yet, oddly, now that he is running for office in a rural, agricultural state, he has asserted that folks in cities like New York and Washington D.C. “look down on the kind of upbringing I had.” Even more laughably, Hawley seems to think that growing up in a farming state equals dirt under the fingernails, declaring that “farming is a way of life, it’s a way of life that you live everyday, it’s a way of life that I grew up in … .” Perhaps they inhaled Eau de Manure at Rockhurst High.
Meeting with farmers at a get-together sponsored by the Missouri Dairy Association, the elite lawyer even came in costume: jeans and boots. Maybe he was taking his cue from GOP Senator Roy Blunt’s blue-jeaned, plaid shirted tour of the state in a rented pickup during his 2010 campaign. Hey, it’s worked a few times for elite, high-living GOP pols why not for the otherwise prim and proper-seeming Hawley.
One problem with Hawley’s salt of the earth act? Claire McCaskill’s backstory.
A middle class daughter of the state who worked as a waitress to secure a Mizzou education, and then worked her way up serving in local and state elective offices before running for a federal position, is, from my perspective, in much better position to understand the needs of the state than Johnny-come-back-lately, Josh Hawley.
And even though McCaskill is ending her second term as a denizen of D.C., Babylon reborn to some Tea-Party turned Trumpie types, she’s been undeniably tireless in her efforts to keep in touch with the temper of the region – her listening tours and kitchen cabinet meetings have taken place regularly, even in off-election years. While she’s struggled to remain true to basic Democratic principles, she’s also listened and learned from those who see the issues differently, sometimes angering those among us who are more progressive in our leanings. But I wager that many of us, such as myself, respect her effort to represent as many of her constituents as she conscientiously can.
McCaskill’s work-ethic and her approach to meeting the obligations of her job also contrast with the pampered Hawley’s easy-going approach. In fact, he seems to have handled both the job of Attorney General and his role as a senatorial candidate in such an anemic fashion that, according to some reports, he’s inspired some in his own party to claim that he’s “allergic to hard work.”
Think it over. Who’s really the birth-right elite insider here, the one who lived a sophisticated life among political movers and shakers in Washington D.C for over a decade and came back to Missouri to play the role of the chosen one in state Republican politics. On the other hand, who’s the politician who’s earned whatever insider status she has by working hard and never forgetting the needs of the people who sent her to Washington D.C. Remember, you usually get what you deserve – which will be determined in the voting booth come November.*
*Paragraph revised to improve clarity 8/9, 11:22 PM