Larry Elder

I caught a cab during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. The driver immediately began teeing off on Republicans. The cabbie said that his father told him, "Republicans care about General Electric, and Democrats care about you and me."

I just watched a documentary on the 2004 election. A young man described why he became a Democrat. As a child he asked his dad whether he should support the Republican or the Democratic Party. His dad said something like, "Do you intend to become rich?" The son said he hoped to. His dad then suggested that he join the Republican Party since it was for the rich and not for "everybody else."

This raises an interesting question. Does this us-versus-them, good-guy-versus bad-guy position (as the GOP only cares about "the rich") affect one's happiness or mental health? A couple of recent polls may perhaps shed some light on these questions.

An Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll recently asked Democrats, Republicans and Independents to define "rich." Does "rich" mean material possessions, or does "rich" mean something like happiness/health/satisfaction?

Democrats at 41.5 percent, versus Republicans at 28.2 percent, more often defined "rich" as either possessing lots of money, material goods or power. Sample "materialistic" responses included things like, "Rich means:" 1. "If you have an income in excess of $500,000 a year," 2. "Someone who has $1 million in the bank," 3. "To have substantially more money than you can spend," and 4. "Being able to afford anything you want and buy your way out of trouble."

When specifically asked whether rich means having family, friends and good relationships, Republicans, more so than Democrats, defined the term this way. Sixteen percent of Republicans defined "rich" in this way versus 9.7 percent of Democrats. Sample "non-materialistic" responses included things like: 1. "I am rich because I have a roof over my head and a good family and I am emotionally and morally stable." 2. "Someone who has many friends that you care about and that care about you." 3. "I am rich because my children and grandchildren live close to me and I live where I want to -- this is rich to me."

Did Republicans answer the "rich" question in a non-materialistic way because they have more money than Democrats?

A new Gallup Poll recently asked Democrats and Republicans to describe their own "mental health." Fifty-eight percent of Republicans describe their mental health as "excellent," compared to 38 percent of Democrats. But what about the role of money?

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit