The Real Romney

I have no idea what Mitt Romney really believes.  When it comes to public policy, he is one of the least principled men to ever run for the presidency in a general election.  Given the history of politics in our country, that’s quite an achievement.

Is he the pro-choice, pragmatic, technocratic moderate from Massachusetts or is he the government-hating, anti-abortion severe conservative of this campaign?  No one knows.  Maybe it’s neither.  His only true guiding principle appears to be his ambition.

A new video has come out where Romney is seen saying the following:

“…there are 47 percent who are with him (President Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

If he believes this repulsive nonsense, that working-class Americans who are trying to survive living paycheck to paycheck in the awful economy created by the Great Recession and the elderly who have worked and done their part for decades are nothing but leeches living off the strong supermen of some delusional Ayn Rand-inspired fantasy, he should not be allowed near the White House, even as a guest.  If he does not believe it, he is such a cynical politician that his election to the presidency would be a national disgrace.

People working low-wage jobs, the currently unemployed, the elderly, and others (the vast majority of his 47%) think they deserve healthcare?  They think they are entitled to food?  That’s because they are.  Access to healthcare is a fundamental right.  Having enough food to survive is a fundamental right.  Anyone who argues otherwise has values that stand in stark contrast to the Catholic worldview.  It is beyond me how anyone who hopes to follow the way of Christ can hold such appalling views of the poor and spend their life trying to make the rich richer at the cost of the common good.  Shredding the social safety net to ensure that the rich will have increased wealth and more luxuries, while disparaging regular folks who have worked hard and played by the rules their whole lives, can only seem logical to someone whose life is entirely divorced from the life of the average American.

The idea that 47% of Americans lack personal responsibility because they do not pay federal income taxes (only state taxes, local taxes, payroll taxes, etc., which can often add up to a higher percentage than Romney’s own total tax contribution) is the type of condescending garbage one might expect from someone with great advantages who lacks the basic human decency and humility to acknowledge the many contributions others have made toward his own success.  It is what one might expect from the type of person who has the audacity to rip an opponent’s comment out of context and turn it into a central theme of his campaign, encouraging the smug, egotistical mentality of “I built that!”

No man is an island.  Nothing that you or I or anyone accomplishes is ever built alone.  First of all, where is God in this Randian worldview?  Exactly where Rand wanted God, nowhere to be seen.  Second, no one person built all the roads that allow a business to be successful.  Few people are entirely self-educated.  No one has established the rule of law on their own.  No one individual can do what millions of Americans troops have done for the sake of security, freedom, and justice.  From a purely individualistic, self-interested point of view, community matters.  It is essential for individual success.

From a Christian point of view, it is far more than this.  We are brothers and sisters, who care deeply about one another.  By coming together in community, we are responding to our social nature and spiritual desire for communion.  We do not have contempt for those less fortunate.  We feel compassion and a sense of duty.  We are humbled by our success and recognize the awesome responsibilities that come with the gifts we have been given.

I do not doubt Romney’s authentic belief in God and Jesus Christ.  I just wish he would act on these beliefs and explicitly reject the morality of greed and selfishness.  Of course that would mean turning his back on his most important donors and supporters.  Given his past political courage, I am not expecting any changes.