The Lottery Ticket Mentality That Has Infected America

The American dream used to be hard work and making a better life for your children. Now, it’s to get rich quick.

The absolute worst Democratic attack line in 2016 focused on Donald Trump starting his business thanks to millions of dollars from his Dad. During the debate, Hillary tried to make the argument that Donald was only rich because of who his father is. In attempt to make the son look bad, she only made the father look like an American hero.

trump gold throne
Let me be crystal clear – if I have ever have the means to give my child multiples of millions to start a business, you know damn well that I would. It is the dream of every parent to provide for their children and give them a leg up in my life.

More importantly, the attack failed so badly because many voters did not care how Donald Trump ended up rich. They just knew that he was rich and they want to be rich too.

There has always been a “get rich quick” mentality lurking underneath the surface in America. It’s a feature of capitalism; not a bug. In recent years and due in large part to social media, the excesses of the rich and famous are constantly being presented to America. Our television, our news, our shows – there is a common theme of being rich.

To the majority of Americans, both Hillary and Donald were “rich” people. The means for getting there didn’t really matter.

And it made Hillary, as a “rich” person, look like a snob for demeaning another “rich” person for their means of wealth. It made Donald Trump look sympathetic. And it’s really, really had to turn a billionaire racist into a sympathetic figure.

The desire to be rich has no party affiliation. I work in Northern Virginia, in an office building full of people that voted for Hillary. It didn’t mean they were happy with life under President Obama because every single person walking into that building every day wishes that they didn’t have to.

I heard a story from a co-worker about a moment when there were six women in an elevator, when it suddenly stopped between floors. After an awkward moment of silence, one woman sighed and said, “Another day. I’m just waiting for my ticket out.”

After she said that, the other women in the elevator laughed and agreed. “Yeah, me too!” one said. “I think that every day,” said another.

The most important word there is “waiting” because that woman wasn’t actively seeking a ticket out. She was waiting for it, as if she’ll arrive at work one day and there’ll be a million dollar check sitting on her desk.

It reminded me of a Kevin Hart comedy special, in which he pumps his crew up before a show by saying, “Everyone wants to be famous but no one wants to work for it.”

That, my friends, is America in a nutshell right. We don’t want to work for the American Dream; we want the American Dream handed to us. We don’t want to work at a company for 20 years to move up the ranks; we wanted to be given the keys to The Kingdom on Day 3.

This mentality has infected America to the point that far too many looked at Donald Trump, at his ridiculous opulence, and wanted his life. People can talk about him winning over the country as a populist, but there was something more significant driving his popularity beyond the misogyny and racism that fueled his hardcore, extremist supporters.

It was the notion that Donald Trump was America’s lottery ticket. Think about what he said during the campaign – they were outlandish, ridiculous fantasies that captivated rural America.

Yes, the Mexicans are the reason I’m not rich!

Yes, better health care at lower prices!

Yes, make American great again!

Yes, he will save my job at Carrier!

It was a steady diet of this for 18 months and it worked because his supporters truly and sincerely believed that a vote for Trump was their lottery ticket out. Once Trump delivered on all of his promises, the voters would be rich and happy and America would be in a better place, finally.

Instead, the cruel reality is that no politician is a lottery ticket for America. Success takes patience, struggle and dedication – three qualities that our country seems to have forgotten about.

My greatest fear is that we have not learned our lesson. Too many are still waiting on their ticket out.

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