“During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.” David Corn in Mother Jones
Myth Romney said this in response to a question about how he could win the election: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”
Of course, Myth called a hasty a press availability to rationalize his odious remarks once they became known to people beyond the $50,000 a plate fund-raiser audience. Some commentators fail to acknowledge the full import of Myth Romney’s explicit statements even when they were delivered in a friendly setting and even though they seem have been spoken sincerely. As Alan Dershowitz correctly says, “Candor and accountability in a democracy is very important. Hypocrisy has no place.” In the affluent confines of a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Myth Romney supplied the candor. Now it is up to the media and the citizenry to insist on accountability. If Myth is let off the hook on these condescending, disdainful remarks, the media and the populace will be guilty of blatant hypocrisy.
Fortunately several prominent members of the media seem unwilling to let Myth Romney wriggle away from his despicable comments here are a few examples:
1. David Brooks in The New York Times – “Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers…This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits…It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth…It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture…Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact.”
2. Jonathan Chait in The New Republic: The remarks are broadly in line with a right-wing cult of selfishness. “The idea is that the United States is divided into two classes–the hard-working productive elite, and the indolent masses leeching off their labor by means of confiscatory taxes and transfer programs. You can find iterations of this worldview and this moral judgment everywhere on the right…In these disparate comments we can see the outlines of a coherent view of society. It expresses its opposition to redistribution not in practical terms–that taking from the rich harms the economy–but in moral absolutes, that taking from the rich is wrong. It likewise glorifies selfishness as a virtue. It denies any basis, other than raw force, for using government to reduce economic inequality. It holds people completely responsible for their own success or failure, and thus concludes that when government helps the disadvantaged, it consequently punishes virtue and rewards sloth. And it indulges the hopeful prospect that the rich will revolt against their ill treatment by going on strike, simultaneously punishing the inferiors who have exploited them while teaching them the folly of their ways. There is another way to describe this conservative idea. It is the ideology of Ayn Rand.”
3. Annie Lowrey in The New York Times: Who is Romney’s ‘taker class’? “Half of the households that do not pay federal income tax do not pay it because they are simply too poor…Put bluntly, these are not households shirking their tax liabilities. The pool consists mostly of the poor, of relatively low-income working families and of old people. The tax code is specifically designed to reduce the burden on them.”
4. Ezra Klein in The Washington Post: The policy behind Romney’s remarks – “This argument is, in a way, a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in the coming years. Here’s how it works. Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans… Republicans are arguing that these Americans they have helped free from income taxes have become a dependent and destabilizing ‘taker’ class who want to hike taxes on the rich in order to purchase more social services for themselves. The antidote, as you can see in both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s policy platforms, is to further cut taxes on ‘job creators’ while cutting the social services that these takers depend on.”
5. Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post: Mitt Romney trashes the 47 percent – “Back in February, Mitt Romney stuck his ample silver foot in his mouth when he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He went on to say, “We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.” Late Monday, Mother Jones released several video clips of a fundraiser where Romney (R-1 percent) tells wealthy donors exactly what he thinks of those supporting President Obama. In one clip, he contradicts that botched expression of concern for the middle class. In fact, what the Republican presidential nominee said is reprehensible and unbecoming a man who claims to want to be president of all Americans.”
At least five well-regarded members of the media are calling Myth Romney out on his blunt and insulting remarks. Now the challenge is put squarely before the electorate. These opinions are not gaffes. They are a true reflection of Myth Romney’s perspective. They are far more accurate than his stump speeches and his carefully managed appearances on interview programs. We must remember Myth believed he was speaking out of the glare of public scrutiny. He thought he was free to express himself among people who would not take issue with his genuine beliefs. Now that the truth has surfaced, the electorate must not be so self-delusory that it works some mental jujitsu on itself to explain away Myth Romney’s callous condescension toward half the citizenry.
According to the Census Bureau, 49 percent of Americans live in a household that receives a government entitlement for ‘health care’ through Medicaid or Medicare, ‘food’ through stamps, disability, Social Security, or a ‘housing’ assistance program. So, Myth Romney is not calling people we do not know – people he says are not his job to worry about because he will “never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. People who refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives.”
In one-minute-seven-second clip Romney reveals the bogus nature of his purported concern “about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” It reveals his stump speech and talking points to be lies. Myth Romney could not care less about the people he falsely characterizes as those “who refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives”. These are Myth Romney’s own words and no Americans must delude themselves that they are not expressing a genuinely held and believed perspective. Apart from the fine examples cited above some media fence sitters are still making excuses for Myth Romney. It is not the job of media personnel to make excuses or provide escape hatches for presidential candidates or any aspiring political leaders. Candidates and campaigns have paid spokespeople to spin the news and clear the way. Those who earn their living and their fame as journalists must – tell the truth as best they know it and – provide logical context buttressed by relevant evidence. If the members of the Fourth Estate are to serve the function the Republic so dearly needs them to serve, they must not become the equivalent of chauffeurs driving drug dealers around to make deliveries. The propaganda must be left to the propagandists.
As Paul Krugman makes clear: “if you look at the facts, you learn that the great bulk of those who pay no income tax pay other taxes; also, many of the people in the no-income-tax category are (a) elderly (b) students or (c) having a bad year, having lost a job — that is, they’re people who have paid income taxes in the past and/or will pay income taxes in the future. The idea that half of Americans are just grifters is grotesque. If this is real, it’s very, very ugly.”
Let us not forget Romney told reporters in Costa Mesa, CA, “It’s not elegantly stated…I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a question.” He did not say he did not believe what he said. He said he worded it poorly. He stood by the deplorable assertion that half the electorate will never be convinced to take personal responsibility for their lives. If Myth Romney first says these heinous things and then confirms that he meant them, who are we or media personalities to say he did not mean and believe what he said? An Arabian proverb states, “Examine what is said, not he who says it.” This is sound advice and it should be rigorously applied to Myth Romney’s coldhearted comments.
The idea that nearly half the population gets handouts from government while contributing nothing in return is not accurate — of the 47 percent who don’t owe income tax, the majority pay payroll taxes, and the rest almost certainly pay into the commonweal through local levies such as sales taxes — but it strikes a chord with the suspicious and resentful segment of the populace who ignore how they benefit from a government of, by, and for the people and obsess about what they pay to support such a government. Myth Romney is trying desperately to ignite frenzy among this segment in order to win the election on the basis of an overwhelming margin among “straight old white guys.” The 21st century Republican Party is the least inclusive political coalition ever forged in American politics. Myth Romney’s remarks in Boca Raton disclose his full embrace and endorsement of this exclusionary conception of politics in the United States.
In a way, this uncharacteristic candor on Myth Romney’s part is a sign of progress. These dismissive and divisive comments actually may be harbingers of the dawn of a more unified America. As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in the Atlantic:
“You can paint a similar history of the welfare state, which was first secured by assuring racist white Democrats that the pariah of black America would be cut out of it. When such machinations became untenable, the strategy became to claim the welfare state mainly benefited blacks. And as that has become untenable, the strategy has become to target the welfare state itself, with no obvious mention of color. At each interval the ostensible pariah grows, until one in two Americans is a member of the pariah class.
In all this you can see the insidious and lovely foresight of integration which, at its root, posits an end to whiteness as any kind of organizing political force. I would not say we are there. But when the party of white populism finds itself writing off half the country, we are really close.”
As Dr. King so eloquently put it years ago, “We may have all come in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.” Both Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy knew and boldly stated that Americans are far more united by their highest ideals and deepest needs that they are divided by racial differences. Unfortunately skillful and well-funded political hucksters see and seek advantage in and by obscuring our essential unity. The makers versus takers ploy is simply the latest version of this cynical, power-grabbing strategy. It is time for citizens to look behind the curtains of these Wizards of Ooze. They have too long exploited our uncertainties, anxieties, fears, resentments, and too often our lack of information. By giving us vulnerable and plausible scapegoats, they have escaped the responsibility they bear for the damage they persist in doing. Now the truth is out and we must ensure it finally set us free. Myth Romney is doubling down and trying to rebrand his fulsome scorn as a “focus on the people in the middle.” Apparently Myth Romney believes ordinary Americans hate other ordinary Americans as much as his base hates their fellow Americans. The sense and the hope is that Myth is wildly wrong.
Furthermore, Myth Romney appears to be a person who pays little to no taxes. He is definitely a person who pays an income tax rate that is glaringly low given the size of his income. Myth availed himself of billions from the government to finance with various ventures including the Salt This revelation is absolutely vital to an electorate responsible for making a sound decision in the 2012 Presidential election as well as the Congressional elections. We should hold Myth Romney and the Repugnican Party to the standard set by an American proverb, “The wish is the father of the deed.” Lake Olympics. He has used the legal system to exploit bankruptcies as a matter of business, and left the vendors unpaid and workers unemployed after he and his investors were exorbitantly paid. Also, anyone who takes a tax deduction for a dressage horse that is more than most American families annual income should probably hush up about not paying taxes. As is so often the case, Myth Romney is not merely soulless – he is duplicitous! No patriotic, responsible American citizen regardless of economic status, must be deluded enough to think Myth Romney is not disrespecting him or her. Anyone collecting social security or on Medicare needs to realize, Myth Romney is calling you an irresponsible moocher. Get over the misconception that he and the Repugnicans are attacking people of color or whomever you want to disparage. These elitists are belittling you!
This revelation is absolutely vital to an electorate responsible for making a sound decision in the 2012 Presidential election as well as the Congressional elections. We should hold Myth Romney and the Repugnican Party to the standard set by an American proverb, “The wish is the father of the deed.”
Myth Romney’s wish is to dismiss half the citizenry as unredeemable, irresponsible malingerers. If he succeeds in duping the electorate into voting for him, there is no reason to believe he will not do the deed and make his wish come true.
We must rise and resoundingly prove – it is not right to treacherously divide the American electorate into strivers and victims; it is not right to single out any segment of the American citizenry and use it as a target for the fears, resentments, and suspicions of the rest of the people. Myth Romney’s disdainful remarks as revealed in the video are not merely factually dubious, they are ethically obnoxious.
It is right on the other hand, to call on Americans who a benefiting disproportionately from the prevailing system of government to pay a larger share of the costs of operations. Myth Romney and many like him reap vast rewards from the way things are currently done, but pay taxes at a rate roughly half that of ordinary Americans. People in Myth Romney’s economic class pay a lot of money in taxes, but it is a small price to pay given their enormous and relentlessly increasing wealth. Insisting the economic elite pay more is the right thing to do and thus, it is also a true thing to say.
One is a leader when one’s actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. By this criterion, Myth Romney is not a leader. He is a pretender. He is not an inspirer. He is an inciter. He is not a patriot. He is a partisan. In the second decade of the 21st century America needs a man of exceptional character, not a man of exceptional wealth in the White House.
Howard Kurtz remarked – “Romney on the 47 percent seems a stereotype of an unsympathetic venture capitalist–going to be hard to overcome among non-base voters.” Let us remember, Myth Romney’s entire career is as an unsympathetic venture capitalist. He seems like one because he is by training, experience, inclination and habit. In his unguarded remarks, Myth showed more than he truly wants to know. One might ask: “Can he really believe this?” It may seem incomprehensible, but it is not. This is the real story Repugnicans have been telling themselves over and over in the age of misnamed Tea Party. “All Democrats are moochers, and all moochers are Democrats.” This has become an absolute article of faith among the kind of middle- and upper-middle-class people you see at Tea Party gatherings. Repugnicans believe this as fervently as most self-professed Christians believe in the Trinity.
Misguided attempts will be made to equate Myth Romney’s remarks with those of Barack Obama in 2008. There is a best a superficial similarity between the circumstances in which the remarks were made. The nature and implications of the remarks are in no way equivalent. Obama in 2008 was trying to explain why more effective outreach was necessary to a group of voters who have been battered and embittered by adverse economic events. Romney in 2012 was dismissing half the electorate as unreachable and undeserving of efforts on his part to reach them. Obama’s statement was empathic; Romney’s statement was scornful.
Myth Romney’s comments reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. During Ronald Reagan’s second term, most Republicans believed that the government had a responsibility to help those who could not help themselves. According to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans now believe that. Myth Romney and the Republican Party have adopted hyper-individualistic and atomistic social view — the language of common citizenship and mutual responsibility has been displaced by the Randian’s language of makers versus takers. The truth is right before us; we do ourselves, our country and the children entrusted to our care a grave disservice if we delude ourselves that Myth Romney and the Repugnicans do not say what they mean in private settings and say what they mean when the think they can get away with it.
Now that the true nature of Myth Romney has been disclosed in his own words uttered in a friendly setting where he thought they would go undetected by anyone but his intended audience. We the people have the solemn obligation to take him at his words and relegate him to the historical obscurity he so richly deserves.
The clip below shows Myth Romney’s contempt for half the citizenry. The challenge before all voters is to stare the truth in the face and have the fortitude to recognize it and act upon what it reveals about Myth Romney. If Myth Romney thinks it is not his job to worry about half of our fellow citizens, we the people should cast votes that ensure it is not his job to lead us in the quest to perfect the union and achieve one nation indivisible with liberty, justice, equality, and prosperity for all.