From the Left: Romney is not a working-class hero
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
Has President Barack Obama made progress? Absolutely, there is no disputing that. We cannot be intellectually honest with ourselves when we say that he has done nothing or that he is destroying America. These ideas that he is a closeted socialist intent on bankrupting the United States has no grounding – if 31 consecutive months of private sector job growth and a net addition of 5.5 million jobs, coupled with 18 tax cuts and a revitalized auto industry, is not indicative of him being an effective capitalist, then I do not know what is.
His progress is not limited strictly to economic matters, however: the first bill that he passed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, cuts down on pay discrimination based on gender. He repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and his refusal to defend the constitutionality of the overtly bigoted Defense of Marriage Act has put the issue of same-sex marriage on the track to being reviewed by the Supreme Court – potentially as early as its next term.
No one could have walked into the Oval Office and turned the economy around overnight. No Democrat or Republican could have pulled us out of a great recession and brought us directly into a flourishing market. The ravaging of the working class lasted for decades, and it’s going to take time to get us back to the point wherein we can have total economic security again. President Obama has taken bold steps to fight the Recession. He has done much, but there is still plenty of work left to do.
We do not want a corporate aristocrat leading our nation – we want someone of integrity and spirit, someone that is able to identify with the working class and understand the struggles that it goes through, day in and day out. Can Romney identify with workers? Absolutely not. Obama can, being raised in a profoundly middle-class family and struggling to get from a fatherless household and into Harvard University. If President Obama is not a shining example of what a contemporary rags-to-riches story would be, then I do not know what would be. His history encompasses the rhetoric that is so often used in America – that working hard, persevering, and putting in diligent effort can lift one out of poverty and will be appropriately rewarded.
A man who inherited enormous wealth cannot understand what it is like to scrape together money to buy used textbooks. One with multi-million dollar off-shore bank accounts does not understand the struggle of putting food on one’s table and feeding one’s children, or having to choose to pay for either one’s rent or one’s medications. Mitt Romney is not someone who exemplifies the American Dream or the common man – he is an alien, someone that is separated from the working class by such a wide margin that he cannot understand the mere concept of the working class. He cannot empathize with the poor, the middle class, the marginalized and the impoverished when he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. No matter how many photo-ops he may take part in or how many times he wears flannel and blue jeans, he will never fool working families into thinking that he is one of us.
Today, too many people are working too many hours at dead-end jobs, barely able to earn the subsistence wages necessary to keep their homes and families afloat. These are the people that we should be rewarding and focusing on. Why do we continue to glorify the ultra-rich and their shady business deals as being the “hard workers?” No, I dissent from this: the working families, the struggling poor, the middle class and everyone fighting to get into the middle class, those people are the backbone of our economy. They are the ones that get up every day and do the manual work that keeps our infrastructure running smoothly, to stay up late and grade their students’ papers, to staff our hospitals and keep us healthy, to go to work and keep the economic gears turning. The working class is the backbone of the United States, not the ultra-rich, and our value systems should be those that recognize and exalt the common, struggling Americans, not greed-driven bankers.
There are so many things that we need to do over the coming years. Not only do we need to resist cuts to Social Security, but we also need to demand that the ultra-rich pay their fair share and contribute to this nation. We need to also oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, but we must join the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care as a fundamental human right through a single-payer Medicare-for-All system. We must end unfettered free trade agreements that ship our jobs oversees, end all of our wars abroad, and end discrimination against all peoples across different sexual and gender spectrums by instituting national gender-neutral marriage. We must develop a new perspective that glorifies the working class, not the exploitative class.
We do not want a soulless opportunist sitting in the Oval Office. We want someone who understands the middle class by actually having experienced it.
We must stand together against this attack on the working class. Do not vote in accordance with your parents or the never-ending television ads: vote with your conscience. Which candidate will work to end bigotry and promote tolerance? Reduce dirty energy production and encourage sustainable green power? Strive for a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan, just like in Iraq? Push for greater access to healthcare? Tell Wall Street to play by the same rules as Main Street?
We are not going to finally step into modernity and heal our nation until we do these things, and we are not going to be able to do any of them if we have Romney sitting in the Oval Office.
Dan Fournier is a pre-medical undergraduate majoring in evolutionary biology. He considers himself to be a left-wing progressive and liberty-minded individual.