With election season in full swing, I find myself much more hypnotized by the political rhetoric than I normally would be. Mitt Romney’s comment, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I will fix it", during Soledad O’brien’s interview was a jaw-dropping moment for me. Initially, I could not believe that he said it, but then it occurred to me that it was probably one of the more genuine, although despicable, comments of his campaign.
Think about it. Mitt has lived a life of privilege; he has never known a day when he has gone hungry, he has never suffered the morale shattering effects of downsizing or outsourcing, and certainly has never lived paycheck to paycheck, just one catastrophic event away from losing his home. Mitt is not alone in this, many individuals delegated to represent us in government enjoy this same privileged lifestyle. Lets face it, until you have walked in someone else's shoes you can’t know what they are going through.
Whether Mitt knows it or not, there are more and more formerly middle class Americans who have fallen into poverty, lost their jobs, lost their homes, and are living on the streets. Those who are not living on the streets may have some form of employment income, which is hardly enough to live on, but is too much to qualify for the safety net programs Romney talks about. These people on the fringe are one step away from being counted in the ranks of the "very poor," and it appears that he doesn’t care about them.
To illustrate: yesterday, I was listening to a radio program discussing this very topic, the plight of the very poor, when a caller arrogantly exclaimed, "Those that need a safety net should go to their local church and it should be an individual's choice whether he/she wants to assist the poor or not." This was then followed by the obligatory, "This is America, everyone can better their situation if they want to. They should pick themselves up by the bootstraps and change things." This, of course, is paraphrased but it is an accurate account of what was said. The caller's comment was met with a resounding, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" by the host and his guest; clearly expressing their disbelief in what the caller had just said. My contention is that this is the same ideology that most Republicans and especially Tea Party conservatives continuously regurgitate as the gospel.