Thursday, September 20, 2012

3 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Deserves to Lose

He's Got to Go.

I'm fed up.

Up until now I have kept it together through all kinds of insensitive, snotty things that Mitt Romney has said.  But now the level of contempt that Romney has shown for people who work for a living has gotten me so pissed off that I am having to exert effort to write civilly.

This has been building.  It's been building since I read the first Ryan budget and heard conservatives speak about it and why they like it.  But honestly, if you had to choose a vessel for the ideas of Ryan and the other "fiscal conservatives" to ride in, Romney is quite possibly the worst choice you could make.

It is fine to take sides on policy.  But to take a side on policy based on a contempt for other Americans is demeaning to the country.  It's demeaning to democracy.  And it shows a lack of compassion, empathy, and critical thinking skills.

So I'm here to say it: Mitt Romney deserves to lose this election.  And I'll give you three main reasons why I think so.

1. Logic.  I'm a big believer in logic.  And while, sure, logic can be used for nefarious purposes, logic is a pretty good test for how well-considered an idea is:

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 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. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.  [Emphasis mine.]

Romney's assertion is that 47% of people do not pay income taxes right now, that this is a bad thing, and that failure to owe taxes and pay them makes these people dependent on the government and unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.

  • If not paying taxes = being dependent on the government - and dependency on the government is bad - then presumably not paying taxes is bad.  If not paying taxes is bad, tax cuts are bad.  Just ask Grover Norquist.

  • If not paying taxes = public assistance, then tax cuts = public assistance.  This is an especially dangerous argument for conservatives, who like to claim that tax cuts are just "letting people keep more of their money," and are not spending or policy choices.

    • Student Loans,
    • Government Salaries (including Military Salaries),
    • Government Contracts,
    • Social Security,
    • Medicare,
    • Public Schooling,
    • Road Travel, Mass Transit, and Mail,
    • Rural Electrification,
    • GI Bill Benefits and VA Care,
    • Corporate Welfare, 
    • Specialized Tax Cuts/Deductions,
    • Small Business Loans,
    • Mortgages (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac),
    • Bankruptcy Code Protection (including the PBGC provisions frequently exploited by Bain Capital),
    • Regulations and Safety Standards/Inspection, and
    • Courts/Safety/Defense.

  • Are all people who receive any of the above "dependent on government" and "refusing to take responsibility for their lives"?

  • You can see where a lot of policies Romney espouses would run into trouble if we took this theory to its logical conclusion, right?

2. Capitalism versus Democracy, A.K.A. A Little Political Philosophy (I promise, it will be almost painless) -

This is a country built on common principles.  It's built on the belief that the people should rule - that we are all the arbiters of what our government, our community should look like, and how it should work best to serve our needs.  The Preamble to the Constitution says "We the People" and while, sure, it took us too long to really include all of the people, I think we meant it.  That was revolutionary, not just in terms of our relationship with Britain, but in all people's relationship with their government.  And to profane that breakthrough by trying to disenfranchise people who disagree with you, by trying to buy an election, and being contemptuous of actual facts - I'm sick of it.  It makes me heart sick.  I cannot understand how anyone who would spend so much time and so very much money running to lead a country can understand its guiding principles so little.

Democracy is about equality.  We all get a say.  It doesn't matter how much we make, or what we do or how we believe, we all get a say.  I believe that all Americans should vote and be heard - and should take that right seriously enough to learn about the things they are choosing for themselves and their country.

And I think Mitt Romney doesn't get it.  He does not get America.  That's a pretty funny revelation, because he's constantly arguing that President Obama doesn't get America.  But President Obama is the product of the American Dream.  Mitt Romney would fit in better in a feudal country.  One where it's cool for rich people to control the lives of those who have less.  America is what evolved from feudal countries.  We are the future, and Mitt is stuck in the past.

Mitt and the Republicans Are Placing Capitalism Before Democracy.  

But here's the problem for them: capitalism is amoral.  (Cool your jets, conservative friends - I said amoral, not immoral.)  Capitalist theory could very well say that the "right" answer to a given problem includes slavery.  Democracy would not.  The very individual freedom we relish in America was NOT brought to you by capitalism.  It was brought to you by the liberal concept of democracy.

And that's where Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney (the three Rs) get it completely wrong.  Capitalism will not protect or promote anybody's individual rights.  Capitalism is worthless to individuals without individual freedoms, as guaranteed by a constitution and enforced by a government.  Even Ayn Rand thought freedom had to be enforced by a government.

And another thing the three Rs get wrong is this: government is not inherently bad.  Democratic government is an expression of our country's will.  If we do not like what government is doing, we can change it.  But in order to change it, you have to win the argument in the election.  And what conservatives like Ryan are angry/frustrated about is that they are not winning the argument on policy.  Hence, Starve the Beast.  But STB isn't working - people still like Social Security and Medicare, and they still want a government that helps the poor.  That's why conservatives are trying to change the rules of the game, by making it harder for people to vote and trying to use money as a proxy for political power in elections.

3. The Confluence of the Person and the Policy.  There are plenty of rich people who are deeply passionate about policy and empathetic/altruistic in their beliefs about the world.  Mitt Romney is not one of them.  In fact, I cannot find any quote, article, speech, interview that gives me any good reason why he is running for president that is not self-centered.  And if he isn't interested in half of the country and what those people believe, want, need - then why on Earth does he want to be president?

The biggest problem about the 47% monologue is that it conforms with so much of the current Republican rhetoric on how we should view America and Americans.

In this conservative, theoretical, Romney/Ryan world, nobody matters but rich people, because only they can effect any change.  But this is a feudal mythology, not America.  It's not reality-based.  Jobs are not created because rich people have money, jobs are created by economic demand.  You'd think people who are so into capitalism would get that basic fact.  Create more, consistent demand for goods and services, and you will create more jobs, right?  So why would creating government jobs through infrastructural improvements and giving money to state and local governments to hire back the teachers and first responders they have laid off (as Obama has tried to do with his stalled - by Republicans - Jobs bill) help?  Because then those people would have money and could use that money to buy the things they need, thereby creating economic demand.

But it seems like any policy that favors people who are low- or middle-income is seen by conservatives as: A) a waste of money, B) rewarding laziness/bad behavior, C) welfare - regardless of the context, AND that D) everybody who is economically in the bottom half of the country - the "takers" - thinks as one and is trying to take advantage of the "producers" in the top economic half of the country.  (That language, btw, is right out of Ayn Rand.)

Where to begin.

I gotta tell you, I believe this is a cynical, obnoxious, self-centered way to view our country.  And the only way you believe that rich people are so awesome and lower- and middle-income people are so awful is if you don't actually know or talk to any lower- and middle-income people.

Soap Box Moment:  As far as I can tell,

  • Mitt Romney has NO IDEA what it's like to try to make ends meet when you have to rely on what you bring to the table, and not what your parents gave you.  

  • Mitt Romney has NO IDEA what it's like to work so hard that you are physically exhausted or get chronic health conditions from your work.  

  • Mitt Romney has NO IDEA what it's like:
    • to not be able to afford health insurance, 
    • to have to rely on your union to get a livable wage out of your employer, 
    • to have to commute from long distances to get from a neighborhood you can afford to a job you can get.  

  • Mitt Romney has never had to make a life decision motivated by economic need.  

  • Mitt Romney, in short, is a spoiled brat who enjoys writing off and insulting the merits and work habits of people whom he has clearly never met or listened to.  

...Why ON EARTH should a man that spoiled be president, when he also clearly has no original ideas, no original policies, and no firm beliefs that he is willing to stand and defend?  [Stepping down off of soap box.]

Mitt wants to be president.  Why?  Is there a single motivating source that is not self-centered?  Because you'd think if there were he would be able to come up with anything - ANYTHING - that he cares about passionately enough to speak about - consistently.  But on issue after issue, Mitt says whatever he thinks people in the room with him want to hear.

The only, ONLY thing I hear from him that is consistent, over and over again, is that Mitt believes in tax cuts.

...So Mitt Romney Deserves to Lose.


  1. On the final list of things Romney probably "has no idea" about, in my view much worse than the not-knowing is the fact that he does not seem to care to find out or seem to be able to appreciate the position of others who have experienced those things first-hand. I don't think one has to learn about every aspect of life through one's own experiences to make compassionate and enlightened policy decisions. JFK and LBJ never experienced first-hand the prejudice and discrimination that they tried to overcome through their policies (ditto Lincoln). FDR did not personally suffer the huge range of the country's economic problems that he struggled against.
    (And I think he deserves to lose for insulting those cookies in Pennsylvania.)

  2. It's true, the first-hand experience is important - but if you don't have that, and you are interested in crafting good policy, it's a good idea to try to figure out what is actually going on. That's certainly a better choice than assuming you know what somebody's life is like and what their values are. And one of the reasons LBJ and Lincoln had empathy was that they experienced poverty first-hand. For JFK and FDR, both experienced significant physical challenges.

    The cookies story - - Romney's that guy you'd cross the room to avoid at a wedding. He says obnoxious things. A lot.