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Guest View: The wine cave conundrum: Do Democrats want successful people in their party anymore?

Once upon a time, America felt pretty good about stories like Craig and Kathryn Hall’s.

Here are people who have worked hard their whole lives, made good investments and have given back to their communities and their country.

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We used to find that inspiring and worth emulating. After all, Craig Hall is a guy who started off his billion-dollar development empire on $4,000 in savings from mowing lawns and selling Cutco. His wife had more of a step-up in life, perhaps, but she built on her beginnings, becoming a successful lawyer, executive and ambassador.

So why did the Halls — devoted Democrats — find themselves torn to bits as villains in the last Democratic debate?

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The Halls are the owners of the now infamous wine cave in Napa, Calif., and they hosted Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg there for a fundraiser — a fundraiser, mind you, where many around the table were regular folks who happen to have given the maximum individual donation (a whopping $2,800) to Buttigieg.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, now leading the anti-success wing of the Democratic Party, zeroed in on the fundraiser during the last debate. (Nevermind that Warren has plenty of history of her own with fancy fundraisers.)

“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States. Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” she said.

Other candidates, including Andrew Yang and Sen. Bernie Sanders, piled on.

This is a central problem for Democrats — the idea that success and “privilege” (an amorphous charge applied to certain people as convenient) are problems in themselves.

Where does that leave people like Craig and Kathryn Hall, who have employed their success to further causes of greater opportunity for all Americans, including launching a program to help women and minorities start successful businesses?

For Craig Hall, it means feeling like “a pawn.” For Kathryn Hall, it means she'd just rather not.

No one pretends the Halls haven't benefited from their political associations. But we have to wonder if Democrats really would be better off jettisoning the successful Americans who support the party.

And we have to wonder if you want a party where people who know how to make it in America are treated like enemies.

The American story has always included the chance to strike it big, to make it, to go from mowing lawns to owning vineyards.

If Democrats don't want that story in their tent anymore, we expect the other side will embrace it gladly and consider it a privilege.

The Dallas Morning News

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