Romney’s Empathy Card
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“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 the government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are the people who pay no income tax.”
In the time it took for Mitt Romney to utter those words to a private room full of wealthy donors in Florida, Romney’s already empathetically-challenged campaign faltered even more and the ramifications of his gaffe is showing in the swing states. The Romney campaign’s damage control is in full swing trying to convince those who his remarks offended that he is empathetic. Ironically, the very thing he cites as his proof of empathy (his healthcare plan in Massachusetts) is a source of contention with other Republicans and an issue Romney has shied away from thus far. Romney’s state-run healthcare plan has long been accepted as a model for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “Don’t forget—I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
So what is the problem? The problem is that Romney has vowed to repeal “Obamacare” and has said he would replace it with “real health care reform.” Just a few days later, Mitt Romney said he didn’t understand what the issue was with the uninsured because they could go to Emergency Rooms. It is evident that Mitt Romney is out of touch, ignoring the fact that the ER doesn’t provide preventative care.
It is no secret that the political environment of this election is distinctly polarized. There is no denying that the 21st century Republican Party has taken a very hard right in its views and it shows no interest in compromise and the inherent empathy of the 20th century Republicans is noticeably gone. The truth is this Republican Party is not Reagan’s Republican Party, and Reagan’s wasn’t Eisenhower’s either. Last summer, I was listening to an interview with Governor Romney. The interviewer stated that Mitt Romney’s father, George, was the very popular 43rd Governor of Michigan. George Romney, a Republican, was passionate about Civil Rights and served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Nixon administration after his own Presidential bid failed. The interviewer asked, “How would you explain this Republican Party to your father?” The long pause from Romney instead of an answer piqued my curiosity. “My father is the real deal. I learned a lot from him but we didn’t always agree on politics.” Surely George Romney’s Republican Party would barely even recognize his youngest son’s Republican Party either.
The Republicans of today are starkly different from those of yesterday, so too is the life of George Romney starkly different than his son’s. George Romney’s life had humble beginnings. His parents had denounced their American citizenship to move to Mexico where polygamy was legal. However, the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution brought them back to the United States as Mexican refugees in 1912. According to George’s wife, Lenore, Mitt Romney’s parents accepted public welfare for the first few years of their relocation. The Great Depression hit and the Romney’s struggles, as well as countless other Americans’, deepened. George worked hard and
became a very successful executive at American Motors Corporation (AMC), purchased stock in AMC, and became a millionaire. George Romney was able to set his two sons up with the best education that money could buy and indulged them in luxuries that he had never been privy to as a child. It seems that George Romney remained indebted to America for the opportunities given to him as he remained moderately liberal in social issues, sometimes causing friction within his party.
Mitt Romney has spent a lot of time trying to prove to his party that he is nothing like his father, which truly is a shame because his father was genuinely empathetic. Statements made by Mitt such as, “Borrow money (tens of thousands of dollars) from your parents to go to school or start a business” and “The poor and underinsured can go to Emergency Rooms” is common rhetoric devoid of empathy that Republicans of yesterday would not comprehend. It is hard not to assume that Mitt Romney takes for granted the opportunities given to his father which directly correlated with lifestyle he was raised in. Empathy is not putting yourself is someone else’s shoes trying to understand their fears and dreams; empathy is also remaining grateful for events that have affected the trajectory of your life and paying it forward. Contrary to Mitt Romney’s beliefs, American opportunities have never been defined by or designed for one class, race, or creed; that is the beauty of the United States, the hope that fuels the dream.
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