In comments on Thursday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that only very wealthy people can truly be “great.”
Trump told an audience, “You have to be wealthy in order to be great. I’m sorry to say it.”
Trump’s comments would seem to exclude major historic figures from greatness. Jesus Christ, the leading figure in the Christian faith, famously was raised by and himself worked as a carpenter.
Other famous figures in human history had more humble beginnings and lives than Trump, a real estate developer who was given buildings and a million dollars by his father to start out in business.
American figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and others began and lived their lives, not as “very wealthy” figures but rose to the top of society based on their leadership skill and vision.
Trump rose to prominence based on a cartoonish media personality, personified on his reality TV show, The Apprentice, and his ownership of several beauty pageants (with women reporting that he harassed and mistreated them). His business dealings have been marked by several bankruptcies, affiliations with mafia figures, and failed enterprises including a magazine, wine sales, and a branded Trump Water product.
In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign was hurt when remarks surfaced that he was deriding 47% of the country who rely on assistance from the government in order to help their basic human needs. The comments made Romney appear elitist and out of touch.
Trump has been described by some in the mainstream media as a populist, but often his comments have had more in common with a member of the aristocracy. Trump has repeatedly made the case that only the very wealthy like him have the proper outlook to be leaders.
Trump has also shown an unwillingness to help those less fortunate than him. His so-called donations to charities have largely been the donation of services from his companies at best, and in the case of a recent fundraiser for military charities, the actual donations were at least $1 million less than Trump claimed.