No Mitt Romney, It’s Not Envy That’s Making Me Green
I was getting ready for work yesterday morning, when my stomach started churning.
No, it wasn’t morning sickness. At least, not the typical type of morning sickness.
My nausea was the result of listening to Matt Lauer interview Mitt Romney after his decisive win in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.
Let me restate that.
I was nauseous listening to Mitt Romney respond to Matt Lauer.
Lauer had asked the heir apparent to the Republican throne if it was fair to characterize questions about income inequality and Wall Street greed as “politics of envy.”
Personally, I thought this was a great question, because issues of income inequality are important to me. How politicians understand and care about the less fortunate is just as critical.
Then Mitt Romney opened his mouth.
“I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare,” Romney said. ” … you’ve opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of ‘one nation under God.'”
Envy? Class Warfare? God? Obviously, Romney’s comments were simple pandering: throwing out key words that his handlers had identified as appealing to potential voters.
Raising the issue of economic inequality has nothing to do with envy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It reflects compassion and caring for all Americans, not just a few privileged individuals.
All political candidates, regardless of party affiliation, have more dollars flowing into their campaign coffers than make sense for a nation with a struggling economy and where children are going to bed cold and hungry. So I definitely think we should all be asking questions.
Besides, addressing issues of inequality isn’t anything new. I thought it was what this country was all about. Up until the last few years, if America was in a beauty contest, equality would have been her platform.
But there IS something wrong in America. And it’s not just one or two individuals who can be blamed. It’s the system.
Report after report shows that income inequality is growing while at the same time, the amount of money flowing into politics is greatly influencing policy. Those with money are controlling policies, and policies drive how money flows. Most Americans are finding it difficult to break into that exclusive circle. So if you don’t have money, your influence is very limited.
Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with Romney’s reaction. Then he said something even worse.
“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like,” Romney said. “But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.”
Forget his comments about Obama. My mind was stuck on the fact that he thought issues of inequality should occur in quiet rooms.
I was dumbstruck. Then I got nauseous.
The issues of unequal distribution of money and the unequal distribution of power shouldn’t be raised during political campaigns? They shouldn’t be the subject of public debate? Did he really say that?
Isn’t that what some people used to think of racism? of women’s rights? about gay rights? About all the critical issues that ultimately helped define, and are still defining America? Does Romney really think those issues should also be discussed in quiet rooms?
With my stomach still rolling, I had to ask myself if he doesn’t want them discussed publicly because the current system suits his need and he sees no need for change. Or does he really just think that people with less money, less education or fewer connections really shouldn’t have an equal voice or opportunity to express their opinions publicly? Or is it both?
With a face green with nausea, not envy, I turned the television off and left for work.
On my agenda for the morning? Giving a presentation on “the Dimensions of Poverty.” The presentation went well. The 50 or so people from various business and social sectors really wanted to talk about the issue. And the room wasn’t even close to quiet.