ANOTHER HORATIO ALGER HERO WHO IS REALLY A “STRIVER”. I posted here about how surprising it was for me to find out that the British have a harsh word—“striver”—for a person born into the middle class who seeks to rise above his station by hard work. I said: “I was surprised because in the United States succeeding through hard work is admired. If a candidate for high office was born in a log cabin, he or she will boast of it. ‘Horatio Alger’ life stories are valued.”
The Economist (February 27) had a piece which is a striking example of this British attitude. It’s about Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for President, whose parents were immigrants and who at age 44 has served as the speaker of the Florida house of representatives and then as United States senator. The Economist says: “In Mr. Rubio’s telling, his biography is a fable of America….”
Like many Americans, I appreciate the story of a candidate who was born in a log cabin. The Economist finds this kind of rags to riches story suspicious. A subheadline suggests that he is “a shallow opportunist”. The piece says that there is a sense even among the Florida political operatives “the [young] man’s breakneck ambition was offputting”.
The Economist does acknowledge that “for all his pole-climbing, his philosophy has been consistent.”