posted 2012-11-21 21:16:36

New Age Robber Barons

Why some see us as a nation of doers and takers    

Phyll Pope

Opinion Editor

Mitt Romney officially began his campaign on the 2nd of June, 2011 in a field in Stratham, New Hampshire amidst tepid applause, and ended 523 days later in an auditorium in Boston, Massachusetts with tears and despair. During nearly a year and a half, the media followed Mitt’s every move, shadowed him at campaign stops, questioned him during planned interviews, talked about his past, asked questions like, “Who is Mitt Romney, the man?”

The only unscripted events during which America got to truly see these two men without their teleprompters and media strategists were the debates, and we didn’t really hear much there that we hadn’t heard on the twenty second television ads that inundated the airwaves all over middle America. The one time we truly saw behind the veil of campaign politics was when Romney made the now infamous 47% remark, saying that nearly half of Americans were “dependent on government” and would “vote for the President no matter what”. Romney of course went on to completely disown the statement, calling it “completely wrong”, and then the first debate came and everyone seemed to forget because Romney just looked so gosh darn presidential, didn’t he?

It wasn’t until the fourteenth, more than a week after the ballots were all counted and “Romney-Ryan 2012” signs were being pulled off lawns, that we really got to see an unprompted, real side of Romney. A phone call to some of his donors after the election, Romney stated that Obama had won simply because he had given out “gifts” to his constituents. “For instance,” Romney is quoted as saying during the call, for young people, “a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women.” And Obamacare, he stated, was a gift to his black constituents.
I find this all to be a bit strange. After all, if Obama was really giving out “gifts” to young people and blacks he would have legalized marijuana, since many surveys suggest that at least one in five people between the ages of 18 and 25 smoke it regularly, and most marijuana arrests in America disportionately affect minorities. In New York City last year alone 51,000 marijuana arrests were made, 87% of which pertained to African-Americans and latinos. However, despite changes in the opinions of Americans in Colorado and Washington who went to the ballot box

to legalize marijuana, it’s still a federal offense to carry marijuana on you. Black people don’t expect too much, though. After all, we’re still waiting for our 40 acres and a mule.

What you might call gifts, however, are tax breaks, which is what Mitt Romney offered to the “job creators”, who all seem to have supported Governor Romney during his campaign. This vocal minority, even more vocal now after Citizens United made voice and money the same thing, feel entitled. After all, they are the world builders. As Leon G. Cooperman, one of the world’s foremost power-brokers, put it, “Our problem, frankly, is as long as the President remains anti-wealth, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-private- aviation, he will never get the business community behind him. The problem and the complication is the forty or fifty per cent of the country on the dole that support him.”
What Cooperman and his fellow “job creators” seem to all agree on is that the problem with America isn’t greed and avarice, but plain laziness. Yes, most of all the wealth coming into this country is going to the top 1% of earners (with most of that going to the top .01%), but that’s simply because they deserve it. To talk about the economic disparity in this country is in fact harmful, they say. In an open letter to Barack Obama Cooperman wrote, “The divisive, polarizing tone

of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them,”. The rich see themselves as saviors, and the poor as a burden. We see a striking and unmistakable resemblance to the Robber Barons of the Guilded Age. I think many of these men would agree with a quote from Andrew Carnegie “Civilization took its start from the day that the capable, industrious workman said to his incompetent and lazy fellow, ‘If thou dost net sow, thou shalt net reap,’ and thus ended primitive Communism by separating the drones from the bees.”

With talk like that, why aren’t people fighting back? Why would people vote for a man who shares the beliefs of these New Age Robber Barons? The answer seems to be people truly didn’t know. After all, Mr. Romney made his political career out of hiding his true beliefs, being whatever was necessary to attain the job. What’s odd though is that despite 523 days of campaigning I’m sure many of the Americans who voted for Romney never truly understood what the man believed in. They thought he was for them. What is the point of having so long a political season if we aren’t even really able to see these people for who they are? Why endure millions of dollars in ads from the Leon Cooperman’s and Sheldon Adelson’s of the world for months when there isn’t much truth in them, on either side?
“We need to fix that” was the off-hand comment President Barack Obama made during his Election night address referring to the long lines at the polls. What Brother Barack doesn’t seem to get is that when it comes to elections in America we need to fix a lot more than that. Real change, like he promised so long ago, would be a complete revamp of the political system. Give each candidate a certain amount they can spend, and limit the campaign season to a couple of months, or three weeks as they do in England. Schedule more debates and limit the number of advertisements. To do nothing now can only mean the slow de-evolution of our political process.