Romney’s Not Done Yet, But He Should Be
It has not been a good week to be Mitt Romney. It started with his response to tragic events in Libya a little over a week ago–he took a sensitive, delicate foreign policy issue incident in which information was still emerging and used it to slam the White House and the current administration, saying that they sympathized with the attackers. He was criticized heavily for this, including by conservative stalwart Peggy Noonan, who worked for President Reagan. And then, of course, there was the video. Shot secretly at a private fundraising dinner and released in parts on Mother Jones by David Corn, it shows a Mitt Romney who does not understand the vast majority of American lives and who, quite simply, does not care. Some of the most controversial quotes from the video:
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.
My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
…if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting block has in the past, why, we’re in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation…
In the second part of the video, he spoke on the Israel-Palestine problem and expressed his opinion that nothing can be done and that ‘something’ will have to happen to resolve it, as well as speaking about how Iran should terrorize the United States.
So what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.
if I were Iran—a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb.
Is Mitt Romney done? There are many who think so. Josh Barro argued that he lost the campaign on Monday in Bloomberg News. So did Peter S. Goodman in the Huffington Post. More tellingly, David Brooks wrote an editorial in the New York Times Tuesday titled, “Thurston Howell Romney,” referring to the clueless millionaire of Gilligan’s Island. In his editorial, Brooks (a self-identified conservative who has broken ranks, most notably on the issue of gay marriage) wrote:
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…It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture…The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation…He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign…when will the incompetence stop?*
And perhaps even more tellingly, there are even hints of this among his base. William Kristol, founder of the very conservative Weekly Standard, called his comments “stupid and arrogant” and wrote:
So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.
It remains important for the country that Romney wins in November (unless he chooses to step down and we get the Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve!)
The NYTimes’ Fivethirtyeight blog forecasts that President Obama will win the election (giving him a 72.9% chance, at the time of writing.) The website Real Clear Politics, which averages national polls, has President Obama ahead by an average of 3 points. President Obama has a strong lead in women and Latinos, among other groups.
In a perfect world, this would be the end of Mitt Romney’s campaign. How can we elect a man to be President who has shown such a disregard for the vast majority of the American people? This is not the first time he has shown his disconnect with the middle and working classes, but this is the first time that it cannot be written off as misspeaking, or a gaffe. In addition, how can we elect a man who has shown a callous disregard for the rest of the world–and severe misunderstandings of the Middle East, one of the most volatile areas at this moment in history–to be the representation of America? If we elect him, he will be Commander-in-Chief.
But this is not a perfect world. In fact, this may be a rallying cry for the conservative base, a way for them to energize around a candidate they have always given a lukewarm reception. The economy is the driving issue in this election. The August jobs report showed that the U.S. added 96,000 jobs—a number well below the forecasted 125,000. Conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh have called this Mitt Romney’s “golden moment”. Donald Trump, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie have all come to his defense, with Christie arguing that what he’s really trying to do is empower people. Mitt Romney has not backed down from his statements, although he admitted that it was not elegantly phrased.
At the heart of it is the fact that among the 47% of people who do not pay income tax are people who intend to vote for Mitt Romney and don’t realize he is speaking about them. Even if you don’t pay income tax–due to not making enough money, or qualifying for tax breaks due to having children–you pay payroll tax. When the vast majority of the 47% get their paychecks, there are deductions. Without the nuanced understanding of the tax code, it’s easy to assume that Mitt Romney is not talking about you, but this amorphous other, a dark force in American society who is using up that money that comes out of the paycheck.
Here’s a graphic to illustrate what Mitt Romney really means by the 47%:
This chart comes from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That 28.3%–people who have jobs, who have taken responsibility for their lives–do not uniformly see themselves as the people Mitt Romney is denigrating, though they are. Many of those people are struggling. They have seen, and felt, the effects of the Great Recession in their lives. In times of economic uncertainty, people blame the government. The explanation for the financial meltdown of 2008 and the subsequent effect on the economy is complex, and complicated. How many Americans can explain a credit default swap?
The conservative base is powerfully motivated against President Obama. From the day he took office, the conservative base has rallied against him. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell even plainly stated that the GOP goal was to make President Obama a one-term president. They worked hard at this goal, even as the country stood on the brink of economic collapse. (Remember the whole crisis over raising the debt ceiling?) It has been four straight years of hateful propaganda–including a persistently enforced idea that President Obama was not born in the United States. Even Mitt Romney himself played into that idea, joking last month that nobody had ever asked to see his birth certificate. (He was, unsurprisingly, silent on the issue of tax returns.)
It’s a shame, because under Mitt Romney’s tax plan, those people will be hurt. Mitt Romney, and the GOP ticket as a whole, have shown themselves to be inept on social issues, foreign policy, and now–while I do believe that Mitt Romney has a thorough knowledge of finance–he has demonstrated his true feelings on the economic woes that plague millions of Americans.
It’s growing increasingly unlikely that Mitt Romney will win this election. The people who will stand behind him would never vote for President Obama. But the danger in believing that the battle has already been won lies in the voter turnout of the Democratic base. President Obama’s victory in 2008 came from a massively energized base and high voter turnout, especially among African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people. In 2012, many of those people are disillusioned. They also face economic woes. They may not vote for Mitt Romney, but they may not go down to the polls at all. They will certainly not be donating, phone-banking, and taking all the other actions that made 2008 such a victory.
There are 47 days till November 6th, when the country will make its choice. 47 days for the 47%–and those who have compassion and understanding for their fellow human beings, as well as an understanding of the fact that we are an interconnected society and what benefits our neighbor benefits ourselves–to fight back against Mitt Romney.
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Written by Jess Mary Aloe
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All opinions expressed in this article belong solely to that of the author and do not reflect the views of Feminspire or its staff as a whole.