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ROBINSON: Romney's class warfare

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

No doubt about Romney's class warfare

Now, at least, there can be no doubt about who is waging class warfare in this presidential campaign. Mitt Romney would pit the winners against the "victims," the smug-and-rich against the down-on-their-luck, the wealthy tax avoiders against those too poor to owe income tax. He sees nearly half of all Americans as chumps who sit around waiting for a handout.

When Romney disclosed those views at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., earlier this year, he and his audience had no idea they were being surreptitiously recorded. Romney obviously believed he was among friends who shared his worldview, which I would translate as: "We must stop coddling the servants."

I am not exaggerating. Thanks to whoever leaked the recording to Mother Jones magazine, we know what Romney really thinks about the nation he seeks to lead:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that -- that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. But that's -- it'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. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax."

This analysis is not only grossly offensive but astonishingly ignorant. Romney suggests that nearly half of Americans are layabouts who only leave the house when they need to cash a government check -- or when it's time to vote for President Obama. Greetings, lazy bums, I'm Mitt Romney. Vote for me!

The truth is that Romney is mixing apples, oranges and bananas. The three groups he mentions -- those who support the president, those who receive payments from entitlement programs and those who are not required to pay federal income tax -- are not the same people. Quite a few senior citizens who receive Social Security and Medicare are Republicans. Quite a few working-class voters are not charter members of Team Obama.

But Romney's ignorance is not as shocking as his callousness. Here's what he says next about the 47 percent: "And -- and so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

To all the single parents holding down two minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet, all the seniors who saw their savings dwindle and had to go back to work part time, all the breadwinners who lost their jobs when private-equity firms swooped down to slash and burn -- to all struggling Americans it must come as a surprise to learn how irresponsible they've been. And it must be devastating to learn that, try as he might, Mitt Romney will never be able to show these unfortunates the error of their ways.

Romney might as well have quoted Cee Lo Green: "Forget you!"

In Romney's view, as expressed at that fundraiser, the key to victory is winning the 7 percent or so who voted for Obama in 2008 but do not belong to the incorrigible 47 percent who should be thought of as lost souls. His explanation of how he intended to reach these people made me think of what early European explorers must have told the folks back home about communicating with the Native Americans they encountered:

"You see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us. And these people are people who voted for Obama and don't agree with us. And so the things that animate us are not the things that animate them."

Maybe he should just try handing out shiny beads.

In an elegant dining room where the self-satisfaction was thick enough to cut with a knife, Romney made clear that he sees this election as "us" versus "them" -- wealthy Republicans versus the unwashed hordes, makers versus takers. Romney believes half of America is lazy, dependent and, frankly, not too bright.

Voters will soon have the opportunity to show him we're not as stupid as he thinks.

Eugene Robinson is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. Email him at eugenerobinson@washpost.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/eugenerobinson.

Comments

Say_that_again 2 years, 2 months ago

Other facts that you should have mentioned:

Romney's parents accepted welfare after leaving Mexico.

Romney and his wife paid no income taxes when they were first married. By their own admission, they were not working while Mitt was in school. That makes him part of the 47% of "Freeloaders". We do not know if he took advantage of student loans, pell grants etc. but high probability that he did. (FYI Pell grants do not consider parents income after you get married so Romney may have qualified for it. Insufficient information to be sure)

Should also note that many of the 47% that paid no income tax are very wealthy, just no earned income. Romney probably did not pay any income tax during part of the years for which he will not release his taxes.

Who would vote for such a hypocrite?

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gwinnettresident1 2 years, 1 month ago

Sorry i am far from rich. Poor is a better word. I do thank the rich for what they do. The top 10% of the wealthy people pay 90% of the tax in this country. Quit whining and get your UNEARNED income credit for all those welfare children you have...You havent payed tax in your life

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John_Smith 2 years, 2 months ago

"We do not know if he took advantage of student loans, pell grants etc. but high probability that he did."

You start out with "Other facts that you should have mentioned:" Then you bash him with speculation? You're an idiot.

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notblind 2 years, 2 months ago

TWO BITS - FOUR BITS - SIX BITS - A DOLLAR !!!!

VOTE FOR OBAMA OR THE LIBS ARE GONNA HOLLER !!!!!!

YYAAAAAAAAYYYY !!!!!!!!!!

The funny thing is that if Romney had [D] by his name the libs would fall all over themselves to vote for him.

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

Who would vote for such a hypocrite?

Maybe he evolved and fought to better himself. How is that being a hypocrite? Atleast he is honest. Your entitlements are fading regardless of who is in office, as the US can no longer afford the freeloaders and takers that continue to stay on welfare as a lifestyle choice. The truth hurts. Sorry bubblehead.

You ask who would vote for a hypocrite? You are voting for Obama, aren't you?

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 2 months ago

The saddest thing to me is that Obama and Romney and their respective campaigns cannot seem to get out of their own way, tripping and falling over their own verbal "gaffes." Given that both sides have serious policy issues that need to be addressed, it is a shame that the media, seemingly complicit in one way or another with both candidates, will not mention someone like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. It's beyond time that America broke free of the two-party duopoly and looked into the ideas of the Libertarians, Greens, and Constitutionalists. Several other countries (Englands, Germany, etc.) have multiple parties in their government. The US needs to follow that same track. Not everyone is a Republican or a Democrat. I know I'm certainly neither.

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JV 2 years, 2 months ago

From Gallup Poll Friday September 21, 2012

Americans' distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.

The record distrust in the media, based on a survey conducted Sept. 6-9, 2012, also means that negativity toward the media is at an all-time high for a presidential election year. This reflects the continuation of a pattern in which negativity increases every election year compared with the year prior. The current gap between negative and positive views -- 20 percentage points -- is by far the highest Gallup has recorded since it began regularly asking the question in the 1990s.

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notblind 2 years, 2 months ago

It sounds like there is still 40% who either are undecided or are decidedly stupid.

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