(Manalapan, Florida) Just south of Palm Beach is one of the wealthiest enclaves in the world; a place of privilege and entitlement where the benefits of capitalism shine forth like a harvest moon. Estates on the Atlantic Ocean here routinely sell for $50 million or more, and most every home in the area is groomed with a fairyland precision. Property taxes can easily exceed $100,000 a year.
The denizens of Manalapan mostly drive sleek foreign automobiles or tank-like SUV’s. They signal when turning into the parking lots of expensive restaurants. When they emerge from their vehicles, wealth is apparent from the design of their clothing to the chic time pieces on their wrists.
As with every other community in America, there are both good and bad people here. There is greed, there is charity.
If you drive north on A1A, you will quickly come to a light after the Eau Hotel (where high season rooms can run $2,000 a night, breakfast not included). Make a left at the light and you see a bridge crossing the Intra-Coastal waterway. If you drive over the bridge, you enter a different country.
The tiny town of Lantana is as far away from Manalapan, symbolically speaking, as Tierra del Fuego is. The area is solid working class where most people cut their own lawns and buy luxury items at Walgreens. I commandeered an outside table at the Kona Bay Cafe and watched the ebb and flow.
The first thing that struck me was the body ink on the young women. Almost every female had tattoos. Many of them. All over. I did not see one tattoo anywhere in Manalapan.
When I speak to young Americans about economics, I tell them the truth: if you secure a visible tat, many white collar operations will not hire you. The ink sends a class message about which cautious corporate executives form judgments.
As Dennis Miller opines: used to be that tattoos signaled bad-ass outlaws. Now your zoftig home health care worker may have one.
It took me less than two minutes to cross the bridge separating fabulous wealth from paycheck dependence. The culture gap is vivid but folks on both sides of the divide have one big thing in common: they each get to cast ballots. All Americans are equal inside the voting booth.
A few miles north of Lantana is President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Hotel. It is very high-end, a place where wealthy Americans relax with dirty martinis by croquet courts.
But the swells didn’t elect Donald Trump, working class folks did and millions remain supporters despite the unprecedented attacks on him by the media. But why do they stand by Mr. Trump? After all, he’s a rich guy, born into big money.
My take is that most Americans do not hate their fellow countrymen who have assets. The vast majority of folks do not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
Hillary Clinton foolishly called some Trump supporters “deplorables” and they voted for the man because they are sick of phony politicians who peddle deceit. They don’t much care anymore about personal failings, knowing every human being has them. They also understand that the press actively protected John and Ted Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and other democrats from scandal. They bitterly comprehend that media rules change depending on which party is in office.
What the folks on the other side of the bridge really want is not TV news bilge, but a real chance for them and their children to improve their circumstance in the marketplace. President Obama did not deliver on that.
We’ll see if President Trump does.
In the meantime, there are far more voters getting breakfast in places like the Kona Bay Cafe than there are dining at Mar-a-Lago. Everybody should remember that because in the USA, it is the great equalizer.