Thoughts on Romney Victimhood and Being Part of the 47 Percent
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 15:09
“Mitt Romney’s Secret ‘47%’ video has set a new world record for the number of gaffes in one political speech” is a headline currently running on Forbes, a relatively conservative site, while ‘more liberal’ CNN is leading with “How inequality hurts Romney’s happiness”, which doesn’t bother to hold back in its scathing criticism.
These articles are only the beginning of what is likely to be a long-running furious backlash against Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, or, currently, Mitt Romney, the man who in his own words believes that 47% of Americans are “dependent upon government” and apparently view themselves as “victims”, an outlook which has understandably prompted a certain amount of anger from said Americans.
Vice President Joe Biden responded quickly with a quippy, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a country of victims” (thank you, we the American populace appreciate that), and former President Bill Clinton noted that the remarks would put a “heavier burden” on Romney in upcoming presidential debates. Similar comments have followed from high-ranking Democrats and various news sources all over the country and continue to do so as the week goes on and we the victims of America prepare to finally see the end of an election cycle we are all forced to endure every four years.
While the reactions (particularly those from the left) are to be expected during an election year and following a major gaffe, it is overly easy to dismiss the incident as a simple slip and the opposition’s reaction as simply indignant faux rage. While acknowledging the obvious (one guy said something, the other guy’s side chimed in loudly, the world spins on), it is important to take a moment to truly appreciate Romney’s comments as they stand, without any of the background noise that has followed.
In the 21st century, a candidate for president told a room full of voters that nearly half of the country he is aspiring to lead are dependent victims, that he would have a better chance at the election if he were Latino (a comment which really should just stand on its own as the ultimate in privileged, racist, and ridiculous one-liners), and followed these comments with even more reasons why he apparently deserves to lead the nation.
All said to a room of individuals who paid approximately $50,000 a plate to hear firsthand how apparently the way to win at being an American is to pay an exorbitant amount in income tax. While I’m sure the majority of them were not overly offended to hear they were free from victimhood, the same can’t be said from the rest of us, many of whom have been viewing the comments on laptops bought with social security money.
Without the clamor of the left and the indignant countering of the right (which, from what I’ve seen, mainly runs somewhat along the line of defending the comments as “taken out of context”, an odd justification given that footage from the video spans the length of Romeny’s remarks and clearly does put them in context), it seems plain that (minus the usual politicking going on in front of a national audience) Romney’s remarks speak to a deeper problem. It can be overly easy to write candidates off as ‘out of touch’, as I’m sure John Kerry still remembers, but there comes a point where a line addressing nearly half of the country truly does merit a certain amount of attention.
Those 47 percent will likely still be at the polls in November, as will many Latino voters, who probably neither see themselves in Romney nor an easily-attained presidency every time they look in the mirror. And, on the other side, it’s entirely possible that the other 53 percent of the nation won’t respond fondly to learning that their value lies solely in the amount of income tax they pay each year.
Ultimately, we won’t truly know the impact of Romney’s gaffe until November. But in the meantime, it may be worth it for all of us to ask ourselves just who we want to lead our country for the next four years. In the amusingly-titled “How inequality hurts Romney’s happiness” article, Jason Marsh cites UC Berkeley researcher observation that having compassion and possessing a sense of trust and cooperation are essential traits found in happy people. It’s worth noting that they’re also found in good people and in good leaders. Victims dependent on government go to the polls too, and, somehow, I doubt they’ll see themselves and their lives reflected in a man who belittles their struggles.
We are a nation of immigrants, of self-made workers, of single moms, of dreamers. The president of this nation should be made in its image; Mitt Romney, in his own words, is not.