The press is having a field day with a secretly taped video of Mitt Romney speaking to high-level donors to his campaign. In the most notable part of the video, Romney blasts half of the country that he is oddly running to represent:
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 they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’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.
So much has been written on that already that I wont bore you with my own thoughts on this. But there is another part of the video that has received less attention and that I think is just as interesting. In trying to establish his own greatness and lack of dependence, Romney says “I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.”
This, I think, reveals much more about the delusional mind of Mitt Romney than anything else he said. It is one thing to be so out of touch with the lives of most Americans that you think 47% of them are lazy good-for-nothings. It is quite another to be so out of touch with your own life that you think you all the money you made was totally independent. Not just independent of the government either, but independent even of your own extraordinarily privileged upbringing.
As should be commonly known now, Romney is the son of a millionaire auto executive who was also governor of Michigan. His wife admitted that Mitt and she paid their way through college by selling off some of Mitt’s stock holdings. Mitt attended a private high school, the best universities, and received all the boosts that come along with being born into a very well-connected, very high-income white family. To suggest that has nothing to do with where he wound up in life — which is what he is getting at in this part of his speech — is on its face ridiculous.
It does however give a window into reality as Republicans and the super-rich see it. They are blinded by the massive advantages many of them had, which helped them get where they are. They just flatly reject the picture that factors outside of one’s control — for example who one’s parents are — have a huge amount to do with individual success. They truly do believe, even in the most extreme circumstances like Romney, that their own individual merit accounts for everything they ever got (so long of course as they forego their inheritance).
The obvious influence of unfair factors and luck are totally erased from this delusional world. Everyone gets everything they deserve. If you are rich, it’s because you’re awesome. If you are poor, it’s because you suck. And nothing should disturb that balance. Romney’s comments about the 47% are clearly disconnected from the lived reality of most Americans, but it’s a reality he has never experienced. More troubling to me is his disconnect from his own lived reality, on top of which he has built a fantastical story of purely independent, bootstrapping wealth accumulation.