Ah, Mittens, Mittens, Mittens. How am I supposed to get any actual work done when you keep saying such ridiculous things?
I have to admit, when my friend asked me I’d heard about Romney’s latest comments taken from an undercover video at a Republican fundraiser, I was skeptical. This is the age of the Internet after all, and, not to diss Huff Po, but they’ll publish anything as long as someone else does first.
But for once it wasn’t merely a hoax. I was honestly momentarily speechless. Even in the context of a campaign, saying that 47 percent of the country are victims and believe they’re “entitled” to things like housing and health care is pretty blatant discrimination and classism.
At first I was merely outraged. Excuse me? I’m “a victim?” I’m “dependent on the government?” I’m “entitled?” I HAVE a job. I PAY taxes. WTF? Coming on the heels of his comments that a middle class income is between $200,000 and $250,000, I was amazed. Is there really no connection at all between the actual middle class and “1 Percent” anymore?
But last night I realized that really is the problem. There’s just no connection at all.
I was explaining the situation to a friend last night and was trying to explain Romney’s view of the role of government and she was just baffled.
“If it isn’t the government’s role to protect and provide for its citizens, whose job is it?”
Me: “Well, they believe that it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself. The government is just there to regulate trade with foreign countries, provide infrastructure like roads and keep us safe from other countries. The rest is private.”
“But what if you can’t take care of yourself and you need some help? What if you’re a kid? Besides, I like things like the FDA. They keep me safe. I wouldn’t trust a corporation to do that.”
To that, all I could do was shake my head and say, “Yeah, I don’t know.”
Among Romney’s comments was another that I was incredibly upset about until I got some idea what he actually meant. Saying that it wasn’t his job to “worry about those people” is a horrible thing to say taken out of context. A president should worry about everyone. But his rebuttal on Fox essentially said “Dude, I’m talking about running a campaign. I can’t worry about those people because they aren’t voting for me anyway.”
However, that’s where his misconceptions really show, because that’s simply not true.
First off, according to the Policy Tax Center, of the 47 percent of people that don’t pay income tax, 28.3 percent still pay payroll taxes. Which means they have jobs and likely don’t view themselves as dependent on government. Myself included.
Secondly, a lot of people who don’t pay income taxes are staunch Republicans. I come from a small middle-of-nowhere town where over half the population will vote for Romney because, despite having no health care of their own and probably going to the local food bank a couple times a month, they believe they have a responsibility to take care of themselves. They are not “victims,” they don’t believe they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
Thirdly, a lot of people that believe that everyone is entitled to a good life, provided by the government if needed, are people who DO pay income taxes. Think Warren Buffet’s progressive tax plan. They’re the people that ring Salvation Army bells and donate to food pantries.
So statements like “those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government. And so I then focus on those individuals who I believe are most likely to be able to be pulled into my camp” show, in my opinion, a huge flaw in Romney’s thinking.
Democrats are not always poor. Republicans are not always rich. There’s far more correlation between religion and political affiliation than money and political affiliation. (See this really interesting article for a more in-depth analysis.) So stereotyping those likely to vote for Obama as poor? Pretty bad judgment call.
And the race goes on.