By Jay Hansen
Mitt Romney won the Republican Primary this year largely because he was viewed as the most electable, most would say (experts and everyman). The reason he was viewed as “electable” in the general election is because, when compared to his opponents in the primary, he was the moderate. Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum were all inarguably further to the right of him, Cain was mostly to the right, Paul and Johnson were mixed bags of significantly further to the right and significantly further to the left on some issues, and Huntsman was laughably weak (holy cow I can’t believe I remembered all of them without having to look them up). Even Republican voters knew that though they identified more with the farther right or extreme candidates, Romney was more capable of beating Obama in the general election, so ultimately, reluctantly, voted for him. As Seth Meyers put it, the primary ballot may as well have just read “Mitt Romney, I guess.”
Now that the primary is dead and gone though, and Romney is a safe distance from such intra-party fighting, we’re starting to see his very own brand of crazy seep out. We already knew he was plastic man, hollowed out long ago of any will or ideology of his own and filled with that of the wealthy and financial sectors. It takes a special kind of fool to think Romney has the best interest of the majority of the American people in mind, but then again, fools are everywhere.
Do Republican voters understand just how much of a sellout Romney is? How could they not? I keep hearing the slogan “anybody but Obama” around the internet, so maybe they know he’s a complete and utter tool for the wealthy and just don’t want to face facts because they’d still rather have him over a black man.
Oh, did I say that out loud?
But I digress.
If you surround an elephant with blue whales, it’ll look small, but take the elephant away from the whales and you suddenly realize jus how big it is again. Now that Romney has been taken away from the disturbingly extreme policies of the other Republican candidates for long enough, we see this.
Let’s take a moment to consider this “moderate’s” current stance on the issues. Of course, I say current because he’s changed several times over his political career, and Lord knows they may change tomorrow. Right now, Romney supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as well as state amendments that would define life at conception, otherwise known as “Personhood” amendments that would outlaw all abortions with no exceptions for rape or if the life of the mother is in jeopardy, greatly jeopardize in vitro fertilization, and possibly outlaw the birth control pill. He’s vowed to get rid of Planned Parenthood and supports an employer’s right to deny an employee health care coverage like birth control if it goes against the employer’s beliefs. He’s vowed to only appoint judges and justices that will not acknowledge same-sex couples any rights of marriage or partnership. He believes insurance companies should have the right to deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and that beneficiaries should be required to pay more for coverage to increase competition among companies and reduce the cost of care for those companies. He believes in an immigration policy of “self-deportation,” which involves making lives for illegal immigrants so horrible they leave voluntarily. He believes spending cuts are the only proper way to balance the budget, and supports cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations at the cost to the American taxpayer of $7.8 trillion over 10 years. Most importantly, he supports the Citizens United court ruling that allowed corporations and special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning for, and thus buying, politicians, which was evident enough in his infamous claim “corporations are people, my friend.” Let’s also not forget that, despite having secured the nomination, he still lets the extreme right bully him around and decide his policies for him. Remember when he tried to hire a gay staffer? Allow Jon Stewart to refresh your memory:
This is the “moderate” from the Republican Party of today’s America. With policies like that it’s amazing he’s held the dam of craziness together as well as he has, especially when compared to his fellow Republicans. Moreover, aside from his policies of which we were aware during the primary season, one new proposition from Romney in particular caught my attention. Last week, Romney said that he would support a constitutional amendment that only allows business owners or those on the side of employment or management to run for President, claiming that the President needs to have knowledge of how the private sector works in order to run the country.
I’m amazed this story was glossed over as much as it was, even in the more progressive media circles online. I’d expect this kind of extremism from Perry or Cain, but in all honesty, I didn’t see it coming from Romney. I don’t think people quite understand just how devastating such an amendment would be. To be fair, Romney simply said candidates for President should be required “to spend at least three years working in business,” which is quite vague. His justification, however, seems to imply that it should be even more exclusive for just business owners and managers, as he goes on to say “You see then he or she would understand that the policies they’re putting in place have to encourage small business, make it easier for business to grow.”
In other words, the entire purpose of this amendment would be to prevent anyone from becoming President who doesn’t know how to grow a small business. Given that intent, it’s more apt to say that Romney wants Presidents to spend at least three years on the side of the private sector that is actually responsible for growing businesses, which would be the managerial and employer side. On top of that, it’s likely Romney’s own backdoor way of being a birther. Already, his close association with birther king Donald Trump has drawn questions about Romney’s actual beliefs of Obama’s qualifications to be President, and the entire point of birtherism is to make up a reason as to why Obama is an illegitimate President. Romney addresses this in his speech before announcing his plans for this new amendment to the constitution, saying “I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution…” By listing the requirements of office, Romney is subtly jabbing at the birthers, especially given that he somewhat redundantly listed citizenship and birth place as requirements, which is a common Romney-ism (unnecessary redundancy). By making a new requirement to be President, one could easily make the case that Romney’s entire point of passing this amendment would be to further discredit Obama as a legitimate candidate, or at the very least to rile up the birther vote.
The problem with either of these purposes (to discredit Obama as a candidate or appeal to birthers), though, is that it wouldn’t apply to Obama as Romney stated it. Obama spent twelve years as an attorney in a private law firm, and two summers working for corporate law firms as a law student, successfully fulfilling the simple requirement of working for three years “in business,” as Romney stated. This is further reason as to why I suspect Romney’s real intent with this amendment goes much further than what he says and actually requires Presidential candidates to have spent three years owning or managing a business, as that would discredit Obama as a legitimate candidate. Of course, it would also mean Teddy Roosevelt, Ike Eisenhower, and possibly even Ronald Regan would all be “illegitimate” Presidents, as the former two spent their entire careers in the military before running for office and Regan only worked as the President of a Trade Union, actor, and in the media before running, and it is unclear if this would disqualify him.
Personally, I felt this idea of Romney’s ranked him up on the list with other right-wing crazies like Perry or Santorum in and of itself. Then, however, I remembered a video I saw online about the libertarian position on public smoking bans (which I wrote an article about, read it here), and came to a bit of a startling realization. The libertarian policy on banning smoking in bars and restaurants is that it’s a violation of the business owner’s rights, as it is their private property, and should be allowed to deny or permit whatever behaviors or customers they please. On top of that, I remembered another story I just barely glanced over a few months ago that said Romney doesn’t know a good reason for why public lands should exist. Again, to be fair to Romney, he claims it’s because he “hasn’t studied it,” but the selling off of public lands has steadily been growing into a GOP staple issue, with even Romney’s former opponent Rick Santorum saying land owned by the federal government should be sold to the private sector. Given that, it’s very likely that Romney supports selling public land, possibly even to the private sector for private ownership of such things as national parks and wildlife reserves. He just doesn’t know how to politically spin or approach the issue yet, so he is literally staying as vague as possible in simply saying he hadn’t studied the issue yet, but also specifies that he doesn’t have a good reason as to why the federal government should own the land.
Why did all of these stories suddenly get tied together in my head? I came to the shocking realization of just how far back Mitt Romney wants to take democracy. We talk about Republicans wanting to take us back to the 1950s, or even the 19th century, a lot these days, particularly for women’s rights, but Mitt Romney may want to take all of democracy back even further than that. It’s already GOP policy that public lands should be sold off, and some even believe to private owners. It’s right-wing ideology, particularly libertarian policy, that property owners have right to do whatever they want with their property, on their property without distinction between residential, commercial, or other different types of property. Even public services like education are being targeted for full privatization by the radical right, making schools and other state-owned property private as well.
Now we learn that Mitt Romney believes that only those that own or manage a business should be allowed to run for President.
Long ago, back when America was first created in the late 18th century, only property owners had the right to vote. Specifically, only white, male property owners could vote. If Mitt Romney believes that the President must be somehow involved in the managerial side of business, most likely an owner, to run for President, along with right-wing policy of selling all public lands, possibly to private owners, and that private property owners can do whatever they want with their property, we could be at the precipice of a return to an America where only property owners have rights. If there is no “public” land, and everything is owned privately, the owners of that property have all the power, and with Mitt Romney’s plans to amend the constitution, all the rights as well. Republicans like Santorum may want to take us back to the 19th century, but it’s starting to look like Romney wants to take us all the way back to the 18th century.
Obviously, this is a stretch, even for me, but some Tea Party organizations have already endorsed the idea. Mostly, this was a series of jumbled thoughts that happened to all fall in the right order when I was at work one day, but happened to paint a very grim picture. I’ve known Republicans and Libertarians alike are all about returning power to property owners and the private sector, even when at the expense of the American people, but looking through the lenses that are these stories combined into one made me realize just how close we may be getting to such a time in history where business and property owners have all the rights, and the poor have none, just like some sort of dystopian fiction.
Of course, the wealthy already have more rights than the poor, even if indirectly and not (yet) sanctioned by law. The events in Wisconsin this week are a perfect example of that. When Governor Walker won re-election in a recall attempt, as one man interviewed on CNN said it, democracy died. One year ago, Walker was losing by 7 points. One year later, he’s up by 7 points. That means he gained 14 points in one year. How? The money.
Scott Walker could not have executed a more perfect example of someone buying an election. He raised $30.5 million, 66% of which came from out-of-state donors, meaning they weren’t even residents of the state and didn’t have any say, or at least weren’t supposed to, in who won the election. That money was then used to buy ad and media time tearing down Barrett, Walker’s opponent, and supporting Walker. That is the power of money in politics. Despite the fact that Walker was deeply unpopular, and was on the record as a union-busting sellout that did the bidding of the Koch Brothers on command like the leash-trained dog that he is, he still won the election, and even got votes from the very union workers he’s already busted, and is now licking his chops to bust further.
“We’re not just disappointed; this is the end of democracy. We just got outspent… This was the biggest election in America and I hope you keep me on tonight because this hurts us all. Every single one of you out there in the nation, if you’re watching, democracy died tonight… I’m very emotional because we all had a lot invested in this. This was it. If we didn’t win tonight, the end of the USA as we know it just happened. That’s it. We just got outspent… we don’t have any other resource left but the people you see here behind me. And if the people you see here behind me can’t get it done tonight, it’s done. Democracy is dead.” – Wisconsin voter after the recall
This man’s plea really got to me, which is why I had to share it in full. The recall election was not about left-wing vs. right-wing or Democrat vs. Republican; it was solely about if money can in fact win an entire election when there is nothing else in favor of the wealthier candidate. The only reason they lost is because they got outspent, as the man kept repeating. The low and middle classes don’t have any money to put into politics; all we have is man power. If such tremendous levels of manpower as those that were on the ground in Wisconsin over the past year can’t compete with money, then what hope is there?
Just yesterday I saw a yahoo headline that said Mitt Romney has raised more money than Obama. REALLY?!?! You don’t say! I sincerely hope they didn’t toil to long over that headline, because it’s not exactly ground-breaking news. If you think Obama is going to get more money than Romney you’re living in la-la land. What’s sadder is that Obama is still pleading for money from these exact same people who are giving Romney even more money. The Koch Brothers alone are pledging to give Romney $395 million, which is more than McCain had for his entire Presidential campaign in 2008, and Romney still has nearly every billionaire in the nation, as well as the entire financial and banking industry and other multi-nationals behind him.
I can only hope that if Romney does win, we sink fast, because already our society is approaching rock bottom, and when you get there the entirety of the working class would have nothing to lose anymore. If his plans for property owners are what they appear to be though, even with nothing to lose the poor may still have nothing left with which to fight.