It’s election season, and the first real weapon of partisanship has been fired. Although it was aimed at Senator John McCain, shrapnel has hit me and a number of my friends. I am speaking about the recent attempt by Democrats to put McCain under “house” arrest, arguing that because he cannot whip out facts about the number of homes he and his wife own, he is an out-of-touch fat cat, disconnected from common folk.
By this standard, my friend Jenny and her three children are fat cats, too. Four years ago, I asked her how many houses she owned. She had no idea; her 38-year-old husband—a struggling insurance salesman--had bought a bunch of $100,000 rental properties in Arizona with no money down. He died of a heart attack that year leaving his family to grapple with mortgage payments on their $180,000 home and to manage the “no cash flow” houses in Arizona. Jenny works as a school teacher and raises her kids by herself. She still has the rentals.
Dave is unsure how many houses he has. “I’d have to sit down and figure it out.” It’s a painful topic. Some of the homes are in his name but really belong to family members, and the rest--which were previously tenant-occupied--are in foreclosure because he lost his job a year ago and has been unemployed since. He rents a room in a stranger’s house because he cannot afford to live in any of his homes. Another fat cat, I suppose?
Until now, election etiquette has been almost Miss Manners perfect. As an Independent voter, I appreciate a polite, political meal in which no one grabs the steak knife and impales his opponent’s boiled potato. But the political table seems to have turned. Democrats suggest a person should not sit at the head of the table as president unless he uses a plastic fork and paper napkin. The donkey party has officially launched class warfare, which is code for partisan politics, the very thing voters have said they despise.
Besides entering the Bermuda Triangle of partisan politics—territory which causes voters to mysteriously disappear from polling booths-Democrats have offended a vast number of middle-income Americans like Jenny, Dave and me. Yes, I have stumbled a couple of times on the “how many houses do you own” question, even though I am less affluent than Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They make at least four times more than I do, live in expensive estates and have gold-plated health care plans. They may think there is a notable difference between the McCains’ wealth and their own, but the real disparity lies between any US Senator’s income and that of many average Americans, including bread-and-butter property owners like Jenny and Dave.
The final reason why I find the Democrats’ “housing attack” troublesome is because it is a direct ambush on the American dream, the goal of starting with nothing and eventually attaining financial success. I moved to California in 1981 with only $500 and bought my first home for $138,000 six years later when I was an out-of-work, single mom. Now I have five properties.
As a real estate agent for the past decade, I have been lucky to witness the American dream over and over like a good movie rerun. I specialize in helping teachers, nurses, police officers and other ordinary Americans build wealth through income properties. I can advise someone with a salary of $50,000 - $120,000 per year how to safely buy real estate over time which will lead to affluence. Many of my clients have become multi-millionaires; others are working towards that goal. I assure you none wish to be taunted, criticized or belittled over their investment portfolio.
So my advice to Democrats? Don’t house around or you may get hurt when absentee ballot Independents sit down at their breakfast tables this fall. Sure, some may move to another kitchen (i.e. that of Nader or Barr), but I suspect most will pass the potatoes and their vote to McCain.