One of the many troubling things about the GOP these days is its dismissive attitude toward Americans who are not rich, healthy, straight, lily-white Christian men. This attitude can clearly be seen not only in what Republican politicians say — if we read between the lines — but also in the anti-underclass legislation they keep advancing at such a feverish clip.
I used the term “underclass” because it seems to accurately describe how the GOP as a party has come to view millions upon millions of less-advantaged Americans. When Mitt Romney recently suggested that 47 percent of Americans are freeloaders who believe they are “entitled” to food, it shouldn’t surprise us. For some time now the GOP has been veering toward a worldview in which the “good people” have the right and duty to “do something” about the troublesome underclass.
Once politicians with mentalities such as those currently permeating the GOP have achieved power, they force other people to conform to their worker-ant vision of proper appearance, productivity and behavior. Such people by nature despise nonconformists and independent thinkers. So we can probably predict what will happen to the United States if we elect politicians like Romney.
This is not just one man’s opinion but the logical product of our arch-conservatives’ backward-looking worldview.
The "Grand Old Patriarchs" have lined up millions of elderly, sick and poor Americans (all collectively “freeloaders” who lust after “entitlements”) in their legislative sights and are about to pull the trigger, if we let them.
What the GOP is saying, in no uncertain terms, is: “We don’t want your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We want to get rid of the burden they represent to us — the good people — one way or another.” Little or no thought is given to a wildly unjust economic system that always favors the rich over the poor, resulting in 1 percent of the citizenry controlling as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined. Are there some freeloaders? Undoubtedly. But the simple truth is that most Americans are willing to work hard, given the opportunity, and it’s wrong to penalize the innocent collectively in the rush to punish offenders.
And who in his or her right mind can agree with Romney that half the American citizenry has no interest in working hard to get ahead? The 47 percent includes soldiers, cops, teachers and firefighters. It also includes retirees: our parents and grandparents. Or, as Jon Stewart put it, “Nana.”
Are we as a nation ready to tell Nana that even though she and Papa worked hard all their lives, they are now unworthy of the “entitlements” of housing, food and health care? That is, after all, what Mitt Romney suggested in a rare moment of candor, speaking to his rich patrons and constituents.
But suppose for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and Romney is correct. Even so, the GOP’s proposed solution — to force others to die slowly and agonizingly from a lack of food, housing and medical care — is unethical.
Instead, we must accept responsibility for helping people who are unable to help themselves. But we can do this intelligently. For instance, we now have the technology to allow people to work from home. So people who receive more assistance than they paid into the system could reimburse the government, or at least help defray the overage, by answering phones, doing light computer work, etc.
Bill Clinton is right. The Romney-Ryan budget math just doesn’t add up, unless we subtract millions of Americans by allowing them to wither and perish. This makes Romney-Ryan the road to national ruin and Nana’s painful demise. We need a president who gets basic math and the simple concepts of social and economic justice. As I have pointed out to one of the birthers who reads my column: If you love your mama, vote for Obama!
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.