We have reached Mitt Romney’s heart of darkness. Romney wasn’t just tired as Ed suggests when he made his statement about the 47% of Americans who will never vote for him because they are wards of the state. No, Romney was expressing what he deeply believes: that the United States is divided into the can-do’s and the can’t-do’s, those that are independent and productive; and those that are dependent and nothing but a drain on our society.
Romney’s belief is a fantasy, of course. As has been noted before, all Americans — regardless of their station — depend, to some degree, on the government — for roads, schools, defense, air traffic control and, in the case of Mitt Romney, various tax treatments that helped make him wealthy. And it is a divisive and dangerous fantasy. Divisive for obvious reasons; dangerous because it leads directly to the policies that Romney-Ryan advocate: massive disinvestment in the things that make us stronger as a nation: education, science, infrastructure — and massive investment in tax breaks that favor the wealthiest, who can, of course, mitigate the impact of the disinvestment through private schools, private planes, private security, gated homes and fee-for-service health care.
What shapes Romney’s unwitting harshness? (I say unwitting because I don’t believe his callousness is intentional.) Perhaps, it is a common mistake of the wealthy: believing that they made it on their own, and everyone else should be able to do so as well. Romney was on the path of privilege the moment he slid from his mother’s womb — elite private schools, Harvard, etc. Certainly that path is not a guarantee of success, but it offers tremendous advantages. To pretend that it doesn’t, to pretend that millions of Americans don’t have a harder climb is contemptible. And to pretend that he hasn’t benefitted tremendously from favorable tax treatment offered by the government is delusional.
Yesterday, Romney changed his campaign, but he didn’t change himself.