Mitt Romney’s Stupid Comments About the 47%

As I sat down today to write the second part of my discussion of the theology of property in the Christian tradition I was sidetracked by the highly relevant story of Mitt Romney’s comments regarding the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes, who are dependent on the federal government, who vote for Obama, and about whom Mitt Romney does not care. As Romney put it in the most horrifying part of the statement:

And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax… my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives….

What? As numerous commentators all over the Internet have already pointed out, many of these people are the Republican Party’s staunchest supporters and the most likely people to vote for Mitt Romney. Most of them are either the elderly or young couples with children who benefit from the Republican tax cuts and tax credits of the past two decades. Many of the rest of them are the unemployed who are so disillusioned with how the economy has performed under Obama’s watch. And while it is true that they pay no income tax, they do pay all sorts of other federal, state, and local taxes. Most of them are and always have been very hard workers, and they have taken no less responsibility or care for their lives than have the 53% who are better off financially.

These were stupid, destructive comments, and Romney has nothing to gain and everything to lose by them.

I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives …

This comment is at the level of Barack Obama’s declaration a while back that the people who vote Republican are those who “cling to their guns and religion.” It conveys an arrogant, derisive, and woefully ignorant attitude toward many of the people who make up middle America. It is not the kind of language you want to hear from someone seeking to be elected President of the United States.

Let me be clear. I actually believe in many of the policies Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stand for. I think most of you know who I am voting for. I believe taxes should be low, dependence on government should be reduced, and government regulation should be minimized so that a free economy can do its job of creating wealth for hard working Americans.

But we have no hope of enacting these policies if we run around shouting out rhetoric about the lazy poor, or claiming that government has no right to tax me in order to ensure that the needs of the poor are met.

That’s why I’m so disappointed with Romney’s comments, and that’s why I write posts chastising conservatives for their views of the poor and of government’s responsibility regarding the poor. Because it’s not enough, if you want to lead a country, to throw out rhetoric that feeds resentment but fails to provide a vision for your country that is both just and balanced. Conservatives can criticize socialism and class warfare all they want, but if they run to the opposite extreme, abandoning any responsibility for the poor and waging a class war of their own, in my opinion, they forfeit their right to claim leadership of the country.

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About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on September 18, 2012, in 2012 election, Mitt Romney, Politics, Republican Party, Welfare State and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Mitt Romney’s Stupid Comments About the 47%.

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