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  • Reverend James Squire

The Leg of Lamb Theory and Why People Get Elected

There are two issues that the press has missed regarding the run for Mayor of Philly. Each of the top candidates have been asked to release their tax returns as is done for the Office of President. Their point is that if you have a lot of money, you may not be able to identify with a large portion of the people that you will be governing. I don’t believe this for the corollary has to be true then. If you don’t have a lot of money, you can’t identify with those who do. If this were the case, we would never have elected such stellar people as Lincoln or Truman to be our President.

The question should not be what is your wealth, but how did you get it and what have you done with it. Most of the people who are rich that I know have worked hard for their money. I was talking with an EA parent recently who was commenting on her son’s life and his job. He is in the financial industry. She was quick to say, that he “works day and night for what he earns.”

She Works Hard for The Money was a song of empowerment by Donna Summers. The meaning of the song was to emphasize the hard work and dedication put forth by hard working people particularly women and to remind listeners to treat others right despite social and economic differences.

“She works hard for her money

So hard for it, honey

She works hard for the money

So, you better treat her right.”

One of the male members of those running for office is Philadelphia’s “Condo King.” He is worth a fortune. But he started out with nothing and built his empire from scratch. Another male in the race owns grocery stores that he set up in communities that couldn’t access good food. He is now rich! So, maybe the question is two-fold. Did you get your money legally and what have you done with it to help others.

One of my good friends who we usually spend New Year’s Eve with is fabulously successful in the finance world. He is a giver. When we first met him and his wife, they invited us to dinner. He was just starting out. There is a story that is a metaphor for our relationship. When they had us first to dinner, they saved up for a week so that they could serve leg of lamb for us which then was a delicacy. I hate leg of lamb! The spouse noticed that I was eating a number of rolls that night and pushing the leg of lamb aside. When they knew us better, she asked me what was it about the rolls and not the lamb. When we have been together many times for dinner, she will, on occasion, get a glimmer in her eye as she passes the rolls to me and asks, “More rolls, Jim?” We still laugh about that after all these years.

I am very proud of this guy for he is a “self-made man” in the tough world of high finance. I am always for the great American story of self-made people, because, I suppose, everyone would like to think that we are one of them, from nothing to something as a friend puts it.

There is the story about John F. Kennedy which has been repeated frequently. He was at a campaign rally and someone shouted, “Kennedy, you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. (as though that should disqualify him). Another voice in the crowd shouted, “Kennedy, you didn’t miss a thing (by growing up that way).” I don’t agree with the conclusion that having money means you can’t serve. Considering money in ethics concludes that money gives you choices, and one of those choices is to help others.

But I have a complaint. If you are going to do this to inform voters about the candidates to be transparent, why don’t you inform them at the same time about the gender studies conclusions about women running for office. It is a study conducted that helps us understand why Hillary Clinton, by far the best candidate over Trump, didn’t win. The Inquirer should cite the research that it is very difficult for women to win against men for two reasons. Men are elected based on their policies. You don’t have to like them to vote for them. People vote for women when they agree with their policy decisions and when they like them. President Obama and others said that Hillary Clinton was the best qualified person to ever run for the Office of President, but post-election polls showed that people didn’t like her ironically because even though she was a self-made woman who served the nation in a number of ways, she came across as being entitled and more deserving of the office. The research shows that in many cases it is twice as hard for a woman to get elected. How about telling the electorate about that pivotal fact.

There is another political electability truth here which I will call the “Leg of Lamb Theory.” If people go out of their way to provide you with something special and you don’t eat it (a metaphor), they don’t readily forget that you didn’t eat that special part of a meal.

It was South Carolina that put Biden over the hump to go on to win the presidency. South Carolina will be the first vote for the democratic primary. Biden made that change. He knew something that I didn’t. It is best to eat the leg of lamb whether you like it or not. People remember. Just ask my close friends whose sacrifice I didn’t take seriously (In all fairness to me, I didn’t know about the sacrificial element.)! I never order Lamb when I go out to eat, but if someone serves it to me now, as a tribute to my friends, I always eat it.

These friends who saved to feed us with a leg of lamb are coming tomorrow for a visit. I hope she doesn’t bring a leg of lamb with her although I think that she knows better.

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