THE WELLESLEY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
Romney’s 47 percent comments reveal true character of platform
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 18:09
In the past week, Mitt Romney’s GOP fundraiser comments have lit up news outlets and spurred outraged discussions. Last Monday, Mother Jones magazine released video clips of the Republican presidential nominees addressing a group of GOP supporters at a fundraiser event. The clips now serve as a record his now infamous “47 percent” comments. Romney stated: “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…” He continued, “My job is not to worry about these people.”
The quotes and their unquestioned authenticity were hailed by news sources as a potential game-changer in the election. Romney’s campaign was deemed damaged or even crippled by outlets like CNN and MSNBC, and even conservative stations like Fox News raised comparisons between these statements of disdain and Romney’s father’s own failed presidential bid in 1968.
Although Romney’s statements were characteristically unfiltered, they were not the outlandish and shocking event that the media portrayed. The “victims” commentary is not an outlier from Mitt’s policies and platform.
Both Romney’s campaign and his supporters have a stated conviction that Welfare and the Affordable Care Act are in opposition to a healthy, financially responsible America. Both Romney and Ryan have openly stated before that they would significantly cut the programs whose recipients Romney here refers to as “victims.” His painfully blunt statements, however, bring the convictions of the Romney-Ryan platform into harsh relief.
Preaching to a chorus of other conservative millionaires, Romney’s characterization as an out-of-touch elitist becomes all too evident. Romney’s privileged lifestyle has become a topic of debate in the months leading up to the election.
The main concern, especially on issues like Romney’s condemnation of federal support programs, is that the Republican candidate is self-made millionaire who may have a skewed viewpoint on the recipients of these so-called “handouts.”
Many Romney supporters do not see this distinction of class and viewpoint as a tangible issue in the election. In their minds, Romney is a millionaire for the people, which could be considered more than fair when Romney’s wealth is compared to that of the other recent and incumbent millionaire presidents.
Nevertheless, Romney has been trying to distance himself from the characterization as an upper-class denizen. It seems like an uphill battle when he buries himself in comments like those he makes at the recorded fundraiser.
The tone of actual disdain in the statements could be more damaging than the elitist perception. The candidate essentially dismisses 47 percent of American voters on the basis that they rely on federal support programs to provide them access “to health care, to food, to housing, you-name-it.”
At its most basic level, this statement reveals that Romney’s platform is in no way intended to cover the interests of these voters. Although he evidently believes he has no hope of winning the “47 percent’s” vote this November, he also evidently believes that he and his potential presidency would have no responsibility to work in support of that particular half of America. As he says in the video, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
More than once Romney has spoken of blocs of voters, not in terms of supporting their interests through aspects of his platform, but as pragmatically lumped-together demographics. “Women,” he says, “are open to supporting me” but “we are having a much harder time with Hispanic voters,” and he fears that “the Hispanic voting bloc [will become] as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc has.”
Romney’s claim, in this video, is detached from the concerns of the nation that he is vying to represent. His statements imply that this disconnect is an issue of moral standing; he cannot, after all, get these people to care for their lives, and he isn’t going to take care of them either. He sees no reason why his platform should cater to them when it is “not my job” to win the 47 percent’s support in the practical issue of the election.
The actual moral worth of Romney’s stance is ambiguous at best. Nevertheless, it is a stance that millions of voters stand behind as they voice their support of cuts to federal programs that go to these “victims.”
The statements made in the video do not alter the content of the Republican platform. No new information was revealed about the policies themselves: Romney had previously established himself as an enemy of the programs he turns his nose up at. The statements, however, help to reinforce the limited concerns of his platform.
Not only does Romney oppose the programs; he feels contempt for the voters who rely on them. It is the kind of “let them eat cake” contempt that represents either the height of ignorance or the height of arrogance.