The Corner

Log Cabins, Silver Spoons

In spite of being NRO’s resident class-sensitivity mimosa, I’m with Christian Schneider on candidates’ class backgrounds. I understand a pol’s urge to come on as prolier-than-thou, but it’s irritating when there are much more important things they should be talking about.

Run your eye down the lists of U.S. presidents or British prime ministers and see if you can spot any clear correlation between political success and humblitude of origins. The most I can come up with is a vague impression that there’s a “sweet spot” somewhere there in the lower-middle classes (Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher). There are an awful lot of counterexamples, though: Lincoln (real poor), Churchill (silver spoon). In an echo of the nature-nurture stuff Jonah and I have occasionally kicked around on the Corner, individual personality seems to weigh far more than upbringing.

The furthest I’d go is to admit I loathe silver-spoon lefties more than I loathe lefties from humble origins, though I’m not sure I could offer a rational justificiation. Since I don’t vote for lefties, though, this is not an electoral consideration. That aside, two candidates would have to be wellnigh identical in every other respect before I’d take their origins into account.

There have been societies where “class background” meant everything. You really wouldn’t want to live in one of those societies.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular

Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More
Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More