In a conversation a few days ago, I made the suggestion that some people supporting Donald Trump feel (perhaps unconsciously) that because he is rich, he must be good at everything, and is therefore qualified to be president. People tend to confer desirable attributes upon the wealthy, at times perceiving them as smarter, more capable…worthier. This implicit positive regard can be very helpful in providing opportunities, resources, and increased support for success. I call it the Trump Effect.
Today, I am thinking about Flint, Michigan and the poisoned water and how could this ever happen here? I’ve decided that the opposite of the Trump Effect is the Flint Effect.
There are people who feel (perhaps unconsciously) that people who are poor are easier to put something over on (a.k.a. dumb) and that their health, their well-being, their very lives are not as worthy. Clearly, the people who knew about the lead levels in the water didn’t think the residents of Flint were worth the expense of fixing the problem. Some people knew for at least a year before saying anything. Actually, worse than not saying anything, the data was manipulated to make the water appear safe. All of those precious kids with lead poisoning (some who still can’t drink their own water or brush their teeth with water from their home tap) now have any challenges they already faced in life undeniably multiplied.
It breaks my heart that this is happening in our country–and that a significant factor in determining whether one is smart and valuable or dumb and expendable is whether one is rich or poor.