Concerning

February 06, 2012

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has committed several gaffes during this presidential campaign that paint him as an out-of-touch wealthy politician. From betting Texas Governor Rick Perry $10,000 to joking about being unemployed to saying he "like[s] being able to fire people" to saying income inequality was something that should only be talked about in "quiet rooms," Romney's remarks only highlight his wealth gained at Bain Capitol, his financial holdings in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, and his incredibly low tax rate. Last week, however, he made perhaps his worst mistake in helping create this narrative about himself as the next Scrooge. No, I am not talking about him accepting the endorsement of Donald 'you're fired' Trump (see post here)--although that probably did not help Romney on this issue. Last Wednesday, Romney argued:

I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. ... I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.
When criticized about the comment, Romney claimed it had to be heard in context--but even in context it is a problematic statement that makes him seem like he lacks empathy. It is almost like he wants to help President Barack Obama win reelection.

Romney's statement is problematic for several reasons. First, he should be concerned about the very poor even if there is a safety net. After all, they are still very poor. Although the "middle class" is "struggling" as Romney claimed, they are not struggling nearly as much as the very poor. Second, even if the safety net is there and works, he should still be concerned that they need a safety net in the first place. When someone is in the safety net it means they have fallen, that something has already gone wrong. The safety net, therefore, should not eliminate the need for concern--especially since more and more Americans are finding themselves falling into that safety net. Third, the safety net has huge holes and is not doing a good enough job helping the very poor who desperately need it. Thus, Romney should be concerned about those who might fall through. Fourth, Romney's proposed economic policies would weaken the safety net. Therefore, he should be concerned about them because they are not so safe after all. If Romney wants to be the president of all the people, perhaps he should start by showing some genuine concern for those who most need our concern and our assistance. Until then, all Americans who care about helping "the least of these" should be concerned by Romney's comment, attitude, and proposed policies.

0 comments