This week may be remembered as the turning point in the presidential election — the moment when the narrative that Obama supporters have advanced about Mitt Romney’s out-of-touch privilege was crudely confirmed and masses of independent voters were alienated.
Romney — just a day after embarking on a campaign “reset” — was seen on a hidden video speaking to a group of wealthy donors talking derisively and cynically about half of American voters.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said. “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.”
He added that it would be helpful to his election prospects if he were Latino, because, you know, we’ve had so many presidents who were people of color that it’s really hard for a rich white guy to get elected in this country.
What are the Republicans thinking? It’s hard to fathom a more wrong-headed choice for president or a candidate more ill suited to the times than Mitt Romney. At a time of Occupy protests and real, genuine concerns about income and wealth disparities, the GOP has nominated a man so wealthy that he hides hundreds of millions in off-shore accounts where they are safe from U.S. taxes. As the part owner of a small business that pays exorbitant taxes, it infuriates me that someone of such wealth and privilege who aspires to be president of us all can get away with dodging his tax obligations and do it with a clear, entitled conscience. His tax schemes may not be illegal, but they certainly are not ethical.
We’ve gone from Bill Clinton feeling our pain to Mitt Romney openly admitting he doesn’t give a shit about anyone in pain. He’s better suited to be president of an all-white country club.
If Romney would take a closer look at those 47 percent or so of American households that pay no federal income taxes, he’d see that they consist of poor people and the elderly. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, in a New York Times report, notes as an example: “A couple with two children earning less than $26,400 a year: The household would pay no federal income tax because its standard deduction and other exemptions would simply erase its liability.”
Meanwhile, the National Log Cabin Republicans remain conspicuously silent on the matter of endorsing this insufferable jerk. It’s time for Log Cabin to get off the sidelines and do the right thing by withholding an endorsement. The arguments about Obama’s allegedly reckless stewardship of the economy don’t hold water given that Romney espouses many of the same policies that led to the economic meltdown. No one was going to fix George Bush’s colossal, epic mess in four years.
And on LGBT issues, of course, there simply is no comparison. Romney and the Republican Party seek to turn back the clock on myriad advances made under Obama’s first term. Romney, who once billed himself as a gay rights supporter, now backs an effort to ban marriage equality in the U.S. Constitution and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.
In 2004, Log Cabin declined to endorse then-President George W. Bush in his bid for re-election largely over his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. In an op-ed published in 2004, then-Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero explained why his organization withheld its endorsement, noting disappointment with the 2004 GOP platform.
“Even as we saw the GOP’s future highlighted with fair-minded prime-time convention speakers, we saw the passage of an extremist party platform that opposes any basic protections for gay and lesbian families,” Guerriero wrote. “The incongruity between the party’s platform and its list of prime-time speakers symbolizes a wider battle for the GOP’s heart and soul.”
That battle continues today. Log Cabin members are not self-loathing closet cases more concerned with their bank accounts than their basic civil rights. They are smart, thoughtful people working thanklessly for change within a party whose leadership disdains them. Withholding a Romney endorsement isn’t an easy decision and would certainly cost Log Cabin access to Romney. But let’s face it: Romney can’t win this thing. Sure, national polls are close, but in the handful of swing states that really matter, Romney would have to run the board of states all won by Obama in 2008 to prevail. Given his endless gaffes, sloppy and disorganized campaign, tone-deaf messaging and inability to connect with average voters, Romney is a deeply flawed and doomed candidate.
Log Cabin should withhold its endorsement and continue working to change Republican hearts and minds with an eye on eliminating the anti-LGBT rhetoric in 2016.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.