How Romney's "47 Percent" Mentality is Linked to Voter Suppression
Yesterday I wrote about the connection between the vote suppression efforts and Romney's disdain for half the country.Here it is in full effect:
“As Mitt Romney said, 47 percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that,” Metcalfe told a radio host, referring to the GOP presidential candidate's secretly recorded remarks, which have caused his campaign to backtrack this week.
I think one of the least discussed aspects of both the Voter ID project and Romney's admission is this belief that all the people who aren't rich and don't have ID are lazy. That's an old trope, of course. Particularly here in America:
But America's poor and disenfranchised are hardly lazy if they are getting government benefits. As Ezra Klein points out in this piece:
Still, for my money, the worst of Romney’s comments were these: “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.”
When he said this, Romney didn’t just write off half the country behind closed doors. He also confirmed the worst suspicions about who he is: an entitled rich guy with no understanding of how people who aren’t rich actually live.
The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district. That’s what money buys you: goods and services that make your life easier.
That’s what money has bought Romney, too. He’s a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream.
The problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, or the agonizing choices faced by families in which both parents work and a child falls ill. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it.
I've always found it so amusing that the right wingers believe, for instance, that illegal immigrants are all on welfare. Clearly, they have no idea how many hoops one has to go through to get on the rolls and neither have they ever considered the absurdity of the idea that people who live in daily fear of the authorities would walk willingly into a government building and submit themselves to close inspection by security and government bureaucrats. They are convinced that these people are in the US to take advantage of our allegedly generous welfare benefits --- and to steal our jobs. But they are still lazy Mexicans who don't know the meaning of a hard days work.
They truly believe that they work harder than anyone else, that their lives are more complicated, that they are the ones who are doing everything, while the poor have it easy. I used to hear it from the wives of Hollywood executives who literally spent their days getting pampered from head to toe by immigrants who worked 80 hours a week and made less than minimum wage. I could never tell if they really believed it or if they just had to say it out loud in order to live with themselves. I suspected the former. There was not the tiniest bit of self-awareness in their complaints.
This is the dark side of America's Puritan work ethic. In order to justify their wealth the upper classes must pretend that those who are poorer have done it to themselves through their laziness and sloth. Otherwise, they wouldn't "deserve" what they have and their whole value system would collapse.