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Divergent paths

Sixty is the new forty.  Sixty-eight is not.  It’s just old.  I am still younger than our newly elected President.  It is a time for introspection. How is it that Donald Trump became a self-professed billionaire president instead of me?

It is petty of me to point out that he had a several million dollar head start.  As last born of my parents’ four children they had without complaint taken on three jobs between them by the time I was judged old enough not to do dangerously stupid things, left unsupervised.  That enabled us to enjoy a princely lower middle class existence.

That I started with less cannot be used as an excuse. We all know that America is the land of opportunity and anyone with a good idea, a will to work hard, and total disregard for other’s welfare can become fabulously wealthy.  It can’t be helped that thousands of people must be content to work at the poverty level in order to support each millionaire’s lifestyle. I accept that.

Mr. Trump and I each had the chance to go to college.  I only lasted the first year at University of Washington before the siren call of wannabe rock and roll hero drew me away.  Another strike against me—he is well educated and I learned that I was not rock and roll star material. Well, it was really fun.   

We each had some business setbacks.  As a partner I contributed much toward bankrupting a restaurant in Spokane.  Again I am just a piker in the business failure arena when compared with Donald Trump.  Nobody would ever have extended to me loans necessary to accumulating a billion dollars in debt.  It’s not easy to become too big to fail.

Mr. Trump has turned his name into a brand that sells board games, steaks, cologne, vodka, furniture, menswear, hotels, beauty pageants, and even a university.  I have yet to create any branded product boasting my name.  Maybe it’s not too late for me to seek funding for Vowell Cheese Spread or Vowell budget motels.  Or I could, with hostility, take over the Oregon Dairy Princess Pageant and jazz it up a little.  Onstage milking contest and cow trivia. If I understood Twitter I could then mock the losers. And the winners.   

Like Mr. Trump I came late to the political battleground. He clearly had far more of the strength and savvy needed to run a successful campaign.  In my failed campaigns to become your mayor I had the mistaken notion that it would be bad to say something that wasn’t true.  I may have even admitted that I was demonstrably less qualified than the candidates I ran against.  I deserved the losses.

Mr. Trump has revolutionized America’s election process.  Born with more cash than working class Americans will earn in a lifetime of labor, he has sold himself as their champion. Carrying that logic to its inevitable extreme, he has appointed a Cabinet full of billionaires who, having read that some citizens are not billionaires, are ready to fight for working class Americans. You should get flotation devices now for all the trickling down that their increasing wealth must surely produce.   

I am sixty-eight.  Is it too late for me to be a billionaire President?  It doesn’t matter. I like living here in Keizer. It is enough to have a really great column which is read in print and online by more Americans than any other column ever in the history of earth.

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)