Several years ago I was very annoyed at something said by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Not that she ever knew, or cared.
It happened during a hearing about campaign contributions, and was mostly overlooked by the media due to all the politicking and posturing around this very volatile subject.
“Then the little people will count some and you won’t have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections.”
What incensed me was her phrase “the little people,” and in a blog I speculated – to whom, exactly was she referring?
Not me, that’s for sure.
Not anyone I know.
In fact, I doubt that any Americans would include themselves in that derogatory description.
Now, for me, that’s all changed.
I do feel like one of those “little people” who doesn’t “count some” – or at all.
What brought this about was a little-noticed story amidst all the media coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in late September and early October.
On Saturday, October 6 it was coming down to the final vote that would – or wouldn’t – seat Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
The Republicans needed the majority of votes for this to happen, but one of their members – Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana – was not going to be present.
On October 6 his daughter was getting married in Montana, and Daines was absolutely committed to walking his daughter down the aisle.
“Wow,” I thought, “what a guy! To pass up this crucial, history-making vote for his daughter’s sake – that’s one great dad.”
Daines’ presence to vote – if needed – was never in doubt. No, he couldn’t be two places at once, but he could attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana and vote in Washington DC.
Hop on United Airlines at the last minute in the middle of the night and fly coach from Montana to Washington DC while the Senate held the vote open, waiting for him?
Instead, said Daines, “My good friend and colleague, Greg, has come to save the day.”
And just like that, fingers snapped, problem solved.
So who the hell, I wondered, is “Greg”?
“Greg” is Republican Representative Greg Gianforte, and if you didn’t know this either, with 435 Representatives, who can keep track of them all?
Gianforte “saved the day” by offering Daines the comfort of his private jet to whisk Daines back to Washington DC if needed.
It turns out that Gianforte is one of the richest people in Congress, with an estimated net worth of $350 million. He won a special election to replace another Montana Republican, Ryan Zinke, who’s worth a mere $1.8 million, when Zinke became U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2017.
When Gianforte made his offer, I imagine the dialogue went something like this:
Rep. Greg Gianforte: No prob, Steve-o, I’ve got a sweet 12-seater jet and a crew, just standing by. Help yourself!
Senator Steve Daines: Gee, thanks, Greg! I’m only worth a lousy $14 million, and haven’t been able to do the private jet thing yet.
When I learned this is when I started feeling like one of those “little people.”
No millions. No jet. No finger-snap problem-solving abilities.
And maybe a little bitter.
I call men like this the “Pale males in grey suits.” Perhaps I should change that to the “Rich and powerful pale males in gray suits.”
Daines……………………….. Ginaforte………………………………. Zinke
What chance do we “little people” have of being heard, when “super-affluent” politicians operate in this rarified stratosphere?