Like Tom Perkins before him, Home Depot billionaire and top GOP donor Kenneth Langone can see outside his money bubble enough to recognize an uncomfortable historical parallel to the rising class war in America. You know where this is going. In a Politico article today titled “The rich strike back,” fearless and proud one-percenters are described as “still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners,” but also hopeful that “the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way.” And nothing accelerates compassion for the rich like when they compare themselves to Holocaust victims:
“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
By now it’s clear that “they’re just jealous” is atop the list of talking points that comes with your first billion — Jonathan Chait wrote wonderfully on the topic last week — but Langone knows nothing can bring attention to his plight like dramatically invoking Hitler. If only these wealthy, powerful men could get their voices heard some other way.