Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Election 2012: *points and snickers*

You get to make this face when you’ve trounced your opponent, and he never saw it coming.

Since President Obama’s reelection Tuesday night, Republicans’ reflections on their embarrassing loss, ironically, have been a reflection of the exact reasons why they lost. In the aftermath, the $400,000,000 question is this: Who lost the election? Conservamoderate Mitt Romney or the Party itself?

First, I feel compelled to disabuse the premise. Barack Obama won the Presidential election. His campaign reached out to the people it needed to reach, and The People (I use this term broadly because, literally, it was every group except white men) responded. And you have to appreciate that they didn’t have to. I learned Wednesday night that one of my good friends sat it out this election. “Just not feelin politics right now,” he said. So folks could have stayed home, could’ve checked out altogether, but they didn’t. In fact, in some states, voters showed up in even greater numbers than in 2008. Barack Obama won 50.5% of the popular vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 48% (wouldn’t it have been poetic justice if that figure was 47%?). Make no mistake, President Obama wasn’t the winner by default. He got chose.

Toward the end of the campaign, amid sure signs of an improving economy and mounting evidence of the President’s consistently rational and well-intentioned leadership, GOP narratives about the President’s “failures” began to unravel. It took just under 4 years to expose the flaws in today’s Grand Old Party and about 3 weeks after the first debate to expose Mitt Romney as a fraud. In the end, I think it was clear that the Republican Party, embodied in the candidate it nominated for President, was out of touch and unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

So, who lost the election? Both Romney and Republicans did. On Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly sagely opined that the Tea Party backed Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, would have been the better candidate to defeat Barack Obama, proving that they don’t get it what had happened the night before. Republicans still think they can simply match minority for minority and no one will be the wiser. Run Rubio and Latinos won’t notice that DREAMers can pay in-state tuition for college but still won’t have access to affordable healthcare. Or, run Susana Martinez and women won’t notice that she represents a party who wishes to end their right to choose, but give equal protection rights to their unborn fetuses. Republicans have a policy problem, and trotting out token minorities to champion bad policies won’t make the policies themselves less bad.

Mitt Romney never convincingly stood up to his party’s nonsense. Instead he was opportunist about it, and reveled in misleading low information voters with base tactics. For Romney, if it meant he would win 50.1% of the electorate, the end would justify the means. Yet, social issues (which are also economic issues, for the record) alone didn’t spell Romney’s demise. President Obama also defeated conservative budgetary philosophy by winning the argument on taxes and “fairness*.” The writing on the wall read that “job creators” prospered in this environment, but they aint create no jobs. In terms of domestic economic policy, Mitt Romney’s economic plan offered more of the same. There was no bold new idea, and changing things back to the way they were before they caused calamity isn’t exactly “change” as I understand it.

Thing is, President Obama’s detractors have always underestimated him. They dismiss him as a novelty deliverer of pretty speeches with few real accomplishments. But in the end, it was they who were undone by the soft bigotry of low expectations. It was Republicans who were exposed as one-dimensional, race-baiting, and small-minded. And Americans soundly rejected that vision for our future. Republicans lost both on demographics and on policy. Their nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ that never were engendered them to a view of the world that just isn’t real. Americans are not all Christian, and we’re not all straight, we don’t all have disposable income or access to good schools, and we don’t all live and die by the same traditions. But we all want the same thing: to be validated by our government, and visible to the people who represent us. If Republicans intend to be a relevent party going forward, they have to do more than practice the aesthetics of diversity. The People need substance too.

Finally, I don’t usually like to gloat because everybody with the courage to play, loses at some point. But there are times when winning really is the sweetest revenge. Indeed, revenge for the foul and failed campaign that Republicans ran this election year warrants a little irreverence for their discomfort at this trying time. I promise not to wallow in their misery. But I will share this hilarious tumblr posting, and delight in it.

This is for the John Sununus and the New Gingriches and the Donald Trumps of the campaign. Click here and enjoy, if you can: White People Mourning Romney**

*I guess Occupy Wall Street wasn’t just a gathering of pissed off hippies after all, eh?

**Seriously, there were, like, NO non-white people at that victory rally in Boston. It is what it is.

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Poor Mitt

I feel bad for the guy. I really do. “Gaffes,” “unforced errors,” and a general sense of meh…i guess have confounded his political campaign.

In fairness, it is true that Mitt Romney’s failings aren’t entirely his fault. It seems the modern GOP is in an ideological tailspin. At one end of the Republican spectrum is nostalgia for a bygone era where only white men enjoyed access to the full bounty of freedom. And on the other end is greed disguised as “success.” The moderate, reasonable faction of Republicans seems drowned out by irrational, obstructionist activists and corporate shills. So Mitt kinda has to be some combination of “that guy” to win over a significant portion of his party. And that sucks.

But as I said, Mitt’s campaign failings aren’t entirely of his own making, but mostly they are. I can’t let the good Governor off the hook for the 47% comments. There’s just no way of spinning the dearth of his smug mischaracterization. Whether “inartfully worded” or eloquently stated, it was foul. And wrong.

And even if that hadn’t happened, there’s the matter of the tax returns — it’s not about how much money he made; it’s about the tax he paid. This point is critical to the discussion of presidential policy when the proposed solutions are a.) cutting social services; or b.) lowering taxes on people who are already well-off. This is a no brainer. But for Mitt, it’s a non-starter. I take issue.

And even if that wasn’t happening, there’s the disreputable-although-effective appeal, through invoking and expanding the Southern Strategy, to win white resentment votes from backlash to our country’s perceived to be parasitic minorities.

And the knee-jerk reaction to matters of international importance to gin up votes from war hawks and the cat who’s always the recipient of this advice: “dude. just think for a second.” But he never listens and his life is a constant … quagmire.

All politicians pander though, right? Right. But to me, Mitt’s approach seems transparently disingenuous. After a while, even John McCain had to tell that crazy lady that, “no ma’am. Barack Obama is not a Muslim” I won’t mention that, like, 30% of Republicans STILL think he is though, and they still expect us to treat them as intellectual equals. No, I won’t mention that. I’m not sure Mitt Romney has the stones to stand up to the willfully ignorant in his party. The way he’s played it so far …

The jury’s still out.

Most accounts of Governor Romney show that he was in the past a moderate, practical politician. He supported pro-choice polices and championed health reform that included a nod to personal responsibility. Yet, he has decided that to be a viable Republican Presidential candidate in 2012, although it could have been divined, it was also politically expedient to grow more “severely conservative.” And the waffling has made Mitt look weak. Former Republican Presidential candidate (and fellow warrior in weak), John Huntsman, described Mitt as a “perfectly lubricated weathervane.” His position on issues is pretty much contingent upon which way the political winds blow.

Likewise, a man I love and loathe, Joe Scarborough, penned a tough criticism of Mitt Romney in his “Politico” opinion piece, “the problem with Mitt.”

Craven calculation, on the other hand, does not pay off for conservatives. Romney needed to decide long ago who he was: the last of the Rockefeller Republicans (and thus somebody who probably wouldn’t have gotten through Iowa) or a genuine movement conservative with detailed ideas about how to right the country. Instead, we have a nominee who represents the worst of both worlds. Any swing voter attracted by moderate Republicanism can’t vote for a man who ran away from his core convictions. And conservative voters don’t believe Romney has any core convictions.

Authenticity is everything.

In discussing ideas, I think the calculus goes like this: even if folks disagree on substance, folks should be arguing points based on what they feel in earnest, in testament to their unique personal experiences. The challenge is to defend it, not to ignore it. For better of for worse, you gotta be who you are.

So even if I really could get down with Mitt Romney’s ideas, I couldn’t respect the way he’s run his campaign. I recognize that part of it isn’t his fault, as his party dangles precariously off the edge of sanity. Yet, Mitt Romney has lacked the courage of conviction in embarrassing and obvious ways. That part is his own. Perhaps, if he loses this election, it’ll put an end to this second act as The Perpetual Presidential Candidate. Perhaps, we will be forever spared from watching him suffer through the awkward contortions of Mitt as anything other than the cat he his: a wealthy business and family man. It’s really too much to bear. But a girl can #hope for #change.

Poor fella. Although not … literally. Which, of course, isn’t a bad thing. But I guess he proves it can be sometimes.

Ha! Look at me, pulling a Mitt.


Great Society

After watching President Obama’s Ohio Speech on the Economy last week, I structured my Black Politics lecture around the contributions and obstructions of federalism – the union of state and federal power – to the “African-American quest for universal freedom.” In that context, we discussed four episodes in our nation’s history which speak to the expansion of federal power, and the utility of “Big Government.” They are: Reconstruction, The Great Depression and the Great Recession, and the Civil Rights Era.

Reconstruction was the first national effort at not only physical, structural renewal, it also was an attempt to redefine society – to no longer affirm the institution of slavery, and the indignity of human bondage. Whatever your feelings about Abraham Lincoln’s motives in supporting abolition, the decision to go to war over it required courage. Lincoln’s efforts stated firmly that the United States is, and not that the United States are. We were one nation committed to a singular destiny – namely, life, liberty, the pursuit of prosperity and happiness for all Americans.

The expansion of Federal power via FDR’s New Deal programs following The Great Depression signaled that government took seriously its social contract with the consented. It would indeed work for the people.

As in the Great Recession, which began somewhere around 2007, and from which the U.S. economy hasn’t completely emerged, the expansion of federal power after the Great Depression served to protect the people against thrill-seeking investors’ risky financial decisions. In the event that great risk did not result in great reward, and instead, exploded into calamitous, wide-ranging collateral damage, only the federal government had the economic fluidity and the moral imperative to lead the rescue.

The moral imperative to do what’s right for most people is what defines the role of government and distinguishes it from the private sector. Thus, during times of national economic crisis, “relief” from steadily rising unemployment and poverty is proffered by the only entity with the power and financial liquidity to do so – government. Social welfare programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the stimulus of 2009 (formally known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) helped save the nation’s economy not from calamity and disaster, but from deepening calamity and disaster. I know that nuance doesn’t play well politically, but sometimes the best answer to “are things better?” is, in all honesty, “things are better than they could have been.”

And then there’s the matter of reform. Neither the Great Depression nor the Great Recession happened as a result of private industry’s concern for common folks. Business – corporations – have as their primary aim increasing the proportion of profit to loss, by any means necessary. The banking industry, through subprime mortgage lending and credit derivatives, exploited the natural aspirations of the American people. The prevailing narrative purports that home ownership is a critical component of achieving the American dream. The industry capitalized on our inability to discern wants and real needs. And for that, we share partial responsibility in the global financial collapse. It’s like this: the haughty aspirations of the American peopled had poisoned the well. And the banks saw an opportunity to capitalize on that thirst – selling back to us water from the poisoned well, an American dream that had an expiration date on it.

It was no problem for banks to approve loans for folks with credit scores of 500 and below because when or if they defaulted on the loan, the bank had already made its share of profit from the fees associated with having scores more applicants and approvals. The industry knew the game was rigged against the consumer, so it insulated itself against the potential fallout. In other words, if the house of cards ever fell, those responsible for brokering the shitty deals would get away relatively unscathed. If the consumer defaulted, the bank had already split up the risk a hundred ways, all across the globe.

FDR’s New Deal programs and President Obama’s Wall Street Reforms were government answers to private industry’s on again /off again relationship with public exploitation. Government gives a shit about you because that’s its job. Corporations make money; that’s their job. Government-imposed regulations on business practices are used to remind business that people are more than just dollar signs. It’s the caveat to caveat emptor – buyer beware; seller be fair. (dope. I just made that up…)

Be fair. This brings me to the Civil Rights era and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Think, for two seconds, about what a “great society” looks like, how it functions, what it’s priorities are. The Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Head Start Program, among many others, made proclamations about who Americans are, and what we value. We decided we didn’t like the idea that minorities bore unequal treatment in our society, we weren’t comfortable with the idea that our elderly and underprivileged should simply limp away, out of sight and out of mind. And we understood that education – as early as possible and as much as possible, offered opportunity and advancement to the individual, to her community, and to society at large.

Great societies recognize the connection between the individual, the community, and society. And government’s role is to ensure that society’s rules of operation are reasonable and fair, such that the individual is able to flourish, and give back. That’s the positive feedback loop. It works the same in reverse. Now that we get to view President Obama and Governor Romney side by side, I see one candidate who understands that vision, and one who does not.

There’s a quote I love that goes: to the hammer, every problem’s a nail. For me, Governor Romney and the Tea Party Republican Party embody this perspective, constructing every solution from the position of privilege. Don’t raise taxes on millionaires who can afford it, and don’t dare regulate business, removing the hard-on it has for risk and exploitation given an opportunity. No, no. Instead, cut spending on services for people who need them most. Reduce or eliminate funding for programs in education, the arts, infrastructure, and science and research – all aspects of society that make it, well, great.

So I guess the question going forward isn’t who you’ll vote for in November. It’s bigger than that. It’s more like, what kind of society do you want to live in? Raise kids in? Grow old in? What values do you honor? Who advocates a “great” society for all of us, and whose position is summed up this way: “great society for me and my cohorts and we’ll make it great for you. Trust me.” Once you answer those questions, who to vote for in November becomes a no-brainer.


Why I’ll Vote Democrat in 2012

Because in the last 15 years or so, Republicans have lost their souls.  They’ve lost their way.  They’ve gone completely fucking nuts.  And the people who support this current cabal of selfish, insensitive assholes campaigning for the Republican nomination seem to have tucked away their good sense, too.  Watch this: 

To be fair, Ron Paul’s a libertarian so his response didn’t surprise me much.  Paul would prefer that the government stays out of nearly every facet of American life.  When asked during the CNN Tea Party debate what should happen to a person who failed to get health insurance, and found himself in a coma, having been dealt a major medical situation, Paul effectively offered a *kanyeshrug*.  What was his advice to the hypothetical young man?  Essentially, go find a church to help you…and um…good luck, sick nigga.  

On some level, I respect Paul’s position.  At the very least, he is genuinely libertarian.  He’s not “playing politics,” as the saying goes.  Paul sincerely believes that government should be hands off in the private sector.   It’s a principled position — one with which I disagree, but can accept.  At least the guy’s intentions are honest.

What’s disgusting though is the crowd’s reaction — their delight in a young man’s potentially fatal misfortune.  And this isn’t the first time tea party types have applauded death.  See Exhibit B:  

These people are typically pro-life, aren’t they?  Or is that only in instances where a woman’s uterus is concerned?

Conservatives tote around funny logic; they respect and revere life in the abstract, and in the womb.  However, once one breaches the threshold of life outside the womb, all bets are off.  You’re just as expendable an entity as anyone else.  You’re on your own.  And if you can’t hack it, well…

They don't really give a fuck.

Thing is, you can totally hold that position in America.  In my opinion, however, you don’t get to hold that position and be President of America.  Obviously, there is much work left to do  because democracy in this country remains an idea, an experiment whose kinks haven’t yet been worked all the way out.  That being said, in its 235 year history, the United States has righted significant wrongs and stood in defense of some pretty stellar principles — the most important of which had to do with the dignity of humanity.  The path to Social Security, for example, was neither quick nor easy, but it was driven by the notion that Americans shouldn’t be left to wither away and die once they pass the age of maximum productivity.  It was driven by the principle that we actually do give a fuck about what happens to you — and by “we” I mean government, and by “you,” I mean you.  

The decades between 1930 and 1980 seemed to lend much credibility to the Federalists’ assertions that the United States must be controlled by a strong  central government.  States play their role, but were “right” and “wrong” left for them alone to determine, I might never have been free.  Again, this isn’t hyperbole to oversell a point.  I’m from Alabama; in 1861, my state seceded from the Union to keep business as usual.  And by “business” I mean slavery.  And by “usual” I mean legal, enforced.  Ongoing.

The equality-centered activism of the 60s and 70s would have meant nothing if the Federal government hadn’t played its hand, and sought to render the following words practical as opposed to toothless and merely rhetorical:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In other words, power and opportunity should no longer be concentrated in the hands of the already powerful.  Anyone so inclined gets to have a shot at a slice of the prosperity pie.

In the 80s, it seemed Ronald Reagan would make it his life’s work to discredit the role of government, famously noting that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.'”  Terrifying, Gipper?  To whom?  Surely, not to the Black students of Little Rock, Arkansas or Tuscaloosa, Alabama who were protected by the U.S. National Guard from some folks uttering truly terrifying words laced with venom and disdain for their particular hue of humankind.  I suspect it also wasn’t terrifying for New Orleanians caught in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to learn that government was “here” to help.  In fact, I imagine it got terrifying when government failed to.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma recently told some constituents that Barack Obama would be reluctant to cut certain social programs because he, “as an African-American male” received “tremendous advantages from a lot of these programs.”  While I could argue the douchebag presumptuousness of such a statement (because after all, Barack Obama is Ivy League educated and pretty fucking smart on his own merits), there’s some value there.  Yes, minorities tend to be more sensitive to the erosion of government programs.  Because without them, tyranny of a misguided majority is a definite possibility.  Who got the power to let power go?  Few.  Very few.

I’m not a pie in the sky liberal operating out of idealism and ignoring reality.  I understand that in addition to being an institution that helps, government also is a business that must profit to stay functional. To that end, there are bottom lines that must be met, and difficult decisions that must be made.  However, those decisions should never come at the expense of our principles.  It should never be ok to cheer and delight in the death of a human being to justify an ideological perspective.

To criticize, disagree, and offer an alternative solution is par for the course, as the business of politics is compromise — “sausage-making”.  However, the second option must provide more guidance than:  “pray about it, and also, good luck with that.”  Government isn’t your mom in the sense that it is responsible for patching up your fuck-ups and kissing your boo-boos.  But government should lend itself to creating an environment that both grows and nurtures opportunity, and pumps the breaks when greed seduces us into getting ahead of ourselves.

The only candidate in this 2012 Republican field worth a dalliance with the red side is John Huntsman.  He speaks thoughtfully, with  slightest hint of pragmatism and moderation.  But harboring those qualities as a Republican in 2011-2012 doesn’t get you nominated.  Mitt “Corporations are people, my friend” Romney will likely take home the trophy.  If he does, please never forget this perspective when he and Obama go head to head.

Romney knows this is misleading.  Corporations are comprised of people — people who, like himself, have made millions, billions of dollars while the majority of Americans who happen not to be corporations saw their incomes dwindle and their prosperity wane.

I don’t trust Republicans and Conservatives in this election cycle.  The U.S. Census report on poverty was released just a couple days ago, and the details are sobering.  By way of address, I need a President who gives a fuck.  We all do.

Like it or not, “We sink, we swim, we rise, we fall.  We meet our fate together!”