Class War…US style… September 19, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in US Politics.
Further to this which IELB posted up yesterday. It’s fascinating to consider how Republicans have shied away from any mention of class in recent times – decrying it as class war rhetoric when Democrats makes points (however weakly) positioned in that area. But how strange to see how clearly situated in class Mitt Romney’s campaign is.
Mitt Romney’s campaign came close to hitting the self-destruct button when he stood by a secret video recording suggesting that 47% of Americans are government-dependent “victims” who do not pay taxes.
In a hastily-convened press conference, the Republican presidential candidate confirmed the authenticity of the video and opted against disavowing the views expressed in it. He said only that the case was not “elegantly stated” and that he had “spoken off the cuff”.
In the video, Romney said: “All right, there are 47% who are with him (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 healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
He added: “These are people who pay no income tax.”
It’s almost as if there is this fundamental blindness, not merely to the realities of class but the rhetoric that he should adopt. I mean that last in the sense that Ronald Reagan would have been far less cloth eared to the nuances – whatever his personal political beliefs, whereas Romney and a generation of contemporary Republicans appear so loftily detached from those they seek to represent that they simply are unable to contain themselves.
What’s difficult to ascertain is whether this is a fundamental shift in perception on the part of the Republican party or is it something intrinsic to Romney and those around him.
I tend to think it is the former, that libertarian right and deep conservative ideas now proliferate and are spoken openly of in a way that would have been difficult if not unthinkable even ten or fifteen years ago. Consider the Randian language of Romney’s comments:
Mr Romney portrayed the US in the stark dichotomy of “strivers” and “moochers” dear to the late Republican ideologue Ayn Rand and to Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan.
What’s intriguing is how counterintuitive all this is in a way. Tea Party populism seems remarkably comfortable with all this – for all its railings against elites.
And what is telling is how small the shift from the following, which was Romney’s apologia — of sorts – to his original statement (and vice versa).
Romney tends to avoid the press as much as possible and it is a sign of the seriousness of the situation that he had to make an impromptu statement. He attempted to pose his comments as part of a broader philosophical debate about the future of America. “Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits? Or do you believe instead in a free enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams?”
It is but a short distance rhetorically and actually from saying the above to saying that somehow those who require benefits are somehow victims. And that’s a rhetoric that we see deployed with ever greater frequency in our own society.
That the 47% line is factually incorrect – in that as the Guardian notes most of those he categorises under that figure actually do pay tax is neither here nor there. Or as the Irish Times puts it:
Though 46.4 per cent of Americans do not pay federal income tax because of deductions or exemptions, all but 18.1 per cent pay federal payroll taxes – at a higher rate than the 14 per cent paid by Mr Romney on the sole tax return he has released. More than half of the 18.1 per cent who pay neither tax are senior citizens, a key constituency for Mr Romney.
I’ve noted previously about this new world of the post-fact campaign. We’re well into it now.