I prefer not to begin with disclaimers but in this case let me state I am not a Romney hater. If I had to pick between the remaining republican presidential candidates, he would be my choice. I’m not saying I would vote for him in the general, just that my purpose here is to analyze, not to attack.
I will say that based on my keen observational intuition that the former Governor of Massachusetts will not be elected President of the United States. Not because he’s too conservative or not conservative enough, or that he’s amended his views on core values. Instead, the inherent flaw of Romney’s candidacy lies in the candidate’s outwardly segregated and static view of American’s economic status.
Whether or not the American dream of unlimited economic opportunity and mobility is in fact alive and kicking is wholly irrelevant given the importance this concept plays in the lives of every American. Any politician perceived as limiting that dream risks alienating voters and thus losing elections. No one I think, including Romney, intentional seeks to create this impression. Nonetheless, stories about, and comments by, the candidate provide enough fodder for folks to develop their own impression of him as an imperial elite content with holding the class status qua.
For example, when recently asked about his economic proposals, Romney said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans right now who are struggling.” Fairly or unfairly only the first sentence received coverage, mostly out of context. Nonetheless, Romney’s wording implies the poor as a class lacking economic mobility and dependent upon the state. It’s not that he does not care about the poor, just that the American dream does not apply to them.
The descriptions of the bankruptcies and lost jobs in the wake of Bain Capital’s sell offs do nothing to help Romney’s image as someone intent on helping others move up the economic ladder. And when he says, “Corporations are people,” like in Iowa, or jokingly state, “I’m unemployed, too,” when you’re the wealthiest presidential candidate of all time, folks may think you’re out of touch and/or worse, unempathetic. A candidate can probably get away with one but not both. Reagan was only out of touch and received two terms. George H. W. Bush however, who marveled at a super market scanner and discounted a bad economy, got only one.
Then there was Romney’s, “Care to make a $10,000 bet?” during a debate in Iowa giving him a likeness to Mortimer Duke in Trading Places (that’s the Brother who believed people were either born with class or without it.) And of course his statement that, “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals,” certainly illustrates little understanding of the plight of poor illegal immigrants.
Now all this brings me to a story that first came to light back in 2007 but has resurfaced with a flurry and that’s the tale of the Romney family fury friend Seamus. I’m not here to pile on and accuse Mitt of animal cruelty though yes, I wonder, what the hell was he thinking; that poor Seamus. And yes, the political fallout alone amongst animal lovers could lose him enough electoral votes to swing the general election. My point is that this story bolsters the perception of Romney as a classist. A two-fold explanation for putting poor ole Seamus on the roof for twelve hours suggested that one, the station wagon lacked space and two, well, the dog liked it. To Romney, a dog is a dog, just like the poor is the poor; each deserving of a specified level of rights, benefits, and treatment.
The public perceives Romney’s natural view of people as having “their place.” In a county built upon the notion that anyone can be anything, this is a perception that does not win elections.