Mitt Romney is right now busy trying to explain the most amazing blunder a candidate for president could make: alienating nearly half of all Americans, possibly more—if we consider that people often take offense at such rudeness whether directed at them or not. But what the 47% remark tells us, most strikingly, about Mitt Romney is that he really has no idea how the real economy works, what it is like to live in the real economy, or what the impact of public policies really is.
For Mitt Romney, every single person who receives any form of funding from the government is “dependent”, and “thinks they are victims”. This includes everyone who receives Social Security—an earned benefit people funded from their own paychecks, but which does not pay enough to qualify the recipient to pay income taxes. It also includes everyone on Medicare—another earned benefit people funded from their own paychecks.
More stunningly still, Mitt Romney, by using the 47% figure, is including everyone who served in the armed forces and receives benefits or a pension from Veterans Affairs. To Romney, they are parasites addicted to the public dole; to everyone else, they are courageous souls who earned their benefits by putting their lives on the line to protect and to serve everyone else in society, including Romney himself.
So Mitt Romney, when candid, openly declares to a room full of rich donors that he is not interested in senior citizens, veterans, public servants, hard-working underpaid single mothers, or anyone else included in that 47 percent, and that he believes they are ALL parasites whose selfishness is robbing him of additional easy money from tax cuts.
And THERE is the kicker: Mitt Romney is campaigning to become president at a time when the always already unaffordable Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires are bankrupting the government and plunging the nation into incomprehensible amounts of debt. And yet, he is promising even more massive new—far more unaffordable—tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
AND: he wants a chunk of that public money, YOUR money, for himself. He wants to reduce his overall tax burden to just 1%, funding his tax cut with cuts to your earned benefits, school funding and the social safety net. He wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, thus implementing the single most massive redistribution of wealth in the history of the world, giving YOUR earned benefits to Wall Street, so people like him can profit from taking risks with it.
Mitt Romney unashamedly proclaims all of these things in public, sparking near universal outcry, from his own party—for incredibly stupid campaign etiquette—and from the general public—for insulting not just 47% of all Americans, but really all Americans who are not independently wealthy, or who have ever paid payroll taxes or served their community or their nation in any way—and he vehemently refuses to apologize, saying he didn’t mean to say what he said in a way that would sound offensive, but that the meaning of it was accurate.
Which brings us to the crux of the problem: Mitt Romney has no clue about economics, or politics, or the functioning of our government. Maybe this is why, when he was governor of Massachusetts, the state fared worse on several different measures of progress in public policy efficacy than almost every other state. He thinks rich people getting rich is what makes us free, and ignores the contributions of the hundreds of millions of real people who make this democracy what it is, who build and secure it, and whose day to day lives in the “real economy” are what make us free.
It is never smart to call any contest before it is over, but it is very fair to say that Mitt Romney is—as Michelle Obama said the office of the presidency can do—revealing himself, just by getting perilously close to the nation’s highest office. And throughout the summer, the Republican National Convention and the month of September, Mitt Romney has been revealing, to an ever wider swath of the American electorate, why it would be so dangerous to allow him to hold that office.
People who received earned benefits from the government are not parasites, or victims, or trapped in a cycle of dependency. They are not any one thing. They are diverse, worthy, and often committed citizens who have often not been adequately compensated for their troubles. Mitt Romney knows nothing about this, clearly.
We need to honor the worth and the value of all of our fellow citizens, and of all people. When our economy, and our public policy, and our tax code, and our politicians, and our system of free enterprise, really do that, our economy will thrive and grow. It is not the self-interest of millionaires and billionaires that makes democracy work or a free economy thrive; it is democracy, and a fair marketplace for ideas, hard work and humanity.