Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Very Poor

When Mitt Romney uttered his now infamous line "I'm not concerned about the very poor," he revealed something about the way he sees America and Americans. Recently, the Republican party has accused President Obama of "class warfare" and attempting to divide the country along socioeconomic lines. What exactly did Romney do in his clear proclamation of how he sees the country? He said first that he was concerned about Americans and then he proceeded to divide them into 3 categories. If this is not classism, or identification of a caste system, then what is it? What's more striking (and disturbing) about it for me is that he also seems to be describing people as if they are fixed entities in these different classes. It is as if he is describing the "very poor" as a class of people who should be satisfied with their position in life and secure with their trusty government safety net. It is as if he is suggesting that these people do not deserve concern because, after all, this is their lot in life. He is referring to poor people as if they are not deserving of the same attention and concern simply by virtue of having LESS. As if they are undeserving of concern because they should not want for MORE, or do not want for MORE! He is implying that this is a class of Americans who do not seek the American dream, who do not strive to be a part of the middle class.

Yes, we can all argue that we know what Mitt really meant--he really meant that he wants to return the American middle class to its place of prominance in our society, the bedrock on which American productivity and manufacturing are built, the quintessential American dream. But that's not what he said. He said--he emphasized--I am not concerned about the very poor.

If he isn't concerned about them now, when are they deserving of his concern? What does a poor person have to do to garner attention from the would-be President? Does one have to fight and claw and become a part of the shrinking middle class in order to be a blip on his radar?

A government of the people, by the people, for the people. Do we really need to add "ALL of the people"?

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