A Tale of Two Hills

England has David Cameron and Notting Hill. Here in America, we have John Edwards and Chapel Hill – currently my home town in North Carolina.

Both politicians affect a concern for the less fortunate. David talks of Compassionate Conservatism; John of Two Americas – the one rich, the other poor.

John Edwards will shortly be announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2008. He will be doing so from the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the area worst affected by Hurricane Katrina. He tells all and sundry that this is reflective of his genuine concern for the poor in society.

However, what might be more reflective is where he has situated his new Campaign Headquarters: a suburban village in Chapel Hill, which I have lovingly christened the Upper Ninth. As in the houses you can buy there reach into the Upper $900K’s; or the average income is in the Upper Ninth percentile of all Americans…


The HQ itself occupies the upper floor of what can only be described as a luxurious faux rendition of the sort of Mediterranean villa you might find in the smarter parts of Palm Beach, Florida.

The moral, I guess, is: beware politicians who affect concern for an issue, but then have a lifestyle that belies that affected concern.

We have an abundance of that in Chapel Hill, where the ‘progressives’ tend to be what we call Merlot Democrats. There used to be an equivalent in England – the Glenda Jackson, Hampstead set of Champagne Socialists. Have they been overtaken by the Cameron, Notting Hill set of Beaujolais Tories?

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Published in: on December 22, 2006 at 12:02 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very well said. Of course, I will wager you 20 quid the national media will never notice, must less mention this delicious irony.

  2. FDR had more money than Edwards and lived in a nicer home (prior to the White House), but history has looked pretty kindly on his administration.

    Put another way, while nothing guarantees that an Edwards administration would be good for the poor, the fact that he lives in a large house that he can well afford does not guarantee that it would be BAD for the poor.

    If you’re serious about keeping an eye on Edwards, welcome to the club. But let’s keep our eyes on the ball — which is to say, the issues — and not try to make up issues where there are none, mmkay?

  3. John Edwards lives in a county of “two Americas”, and yet he is either oblivious or just doesn’t care. How can someone who doesn’t address the issue in his home county really be sincere about it on a larger scale? (I live in Chapel Hill, NC.) I friend of mine ran into him in public and briefly spoke to him about our very own “two Americas” here in Orange County concerning education. He admitted to her that he had “heard something about it”, but didn’t understand it. In Orange County, home of Chapel Hill, we have two school systems and rural children receive less educational opportunities through less school funding because the wealthy city residents “choose” to pay a separate district tax. (The city school district tax makes up 1/3 of the budget!) This may seem fine on the surface, except that in reality, it limits funding and therefore educational opportunities to the rural kids within the same county. (The county commissioners who allocate school funds are required by law to allocate the same amount of money to both school systems within our county. The city district tax puts a cap on county school funding because raising it would “overfund” the city district.) Perhaps it is inconvenient to understand this.

    BTY: Since when has JE been interested in the environment and global warming?? How does his personal life reflect this interest??

    Thanks,
    JE neighbor


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