Romney’s Comments and the Unsettling Truth they Reveal

By now, I’m sure everyone’s heard about the comments Mitt Romney made at a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. earlier this year. Mother Jones broke the story yesterday, including secretly captured videos where Romney makes a few generalizations about the 47% who are “committed to Obama”. The most telling part:

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. [emphasis mine]

I want to address that supposed sense of entitlement for a second. Is the fact that people need food, shelter, and medicine to survive really a sense of entitlement? Is the fact that some people are in situations where they are unable to provide for themselves a sense of entitlement? What if his statement had been about people “who believe they are entitled to police protection, a fire department, education, libraries, roads, national defense”? People who think the taxpayers should support the preservation of life through feeding the hungry and providing healthcare and shelter aren’t doing so out of a sense of “entitlement”.

But more than that, it speaks to an unspoken a very often spoken opinion held by those on the far right, which is finding its way more and more into mainstream conservative ideology: That people’s financial situations are (almost) always deserved. It’s a worldview that seems to come straight out of the pages of a Rand novel: The rich have earned their place, the poor are lazy, and the unregulated free market will solve everything better than the government ever could.

Other unspoken assumptions in this opinion include the idea that everyone starts at the same level, that everyone is granted the same opportunities along the way. These assumptions are frequently made by white males, who are unaware (or in denial) that they’re playing the game of life on Easy Mode.

The dichotomy, though, is perhaps the most disturbing part. The mantra has become “absolute market control vs. absolute government control”, “Libertarian vs. Communist”, “Strict statism vs. unregulated capitalism” etc.  If a candidate (or voter, for that matter) implies that a resource can be better provided by the taxpayers, the cries of “socialist!” begin, even if other provisions are left up to the market.

It’s possible, of course, that with these Gov. Romney was simply pandering to his crowd. But it’s just as disturbing that his crowd thinks this way. In the eyes of this group, if you support a liberal candidate, you are a lazy freeloader. This is what the people calling the shots think of you.

And this is what a man who wants to be your president thinks of you too.

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