Mitt Romney should not seem like an enigma to most people. He is what he is: the product of a wealthy, white, conservative, and patriarchal family. He is more of an anomaly, but he has interesting company. Chief Justice John Roberts, former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush are products of wealthy, white, conservative and patriarchal families. It should not be surprising that these individuals are themselves extremely wealthy and have achieved success in the American free-enterprise system. If Romney really cares about the future of America, then he should use the majority of his wealth to build strong institutions for children in low-income areas.
Wealthy children go to the best schools, have better nutrition, and partake in skill-building extracurricular activities. Those of Romney’s ilk live within a culture that ingrains the inscrutability of the portion of America they are exposed to. It is hard to find fault with people who are reared in this manner. No one can choose the circumstances of their birth. Only a fool would find fault with good schools, good nutrition, and enlightening extra-curricular activities.
The problem, so it seems, is that this is only available to wealthy Americans. This should be viewed as un-American. Wealthy, white, patriarchal conservatives perpetuate this state of affairs in the public policy arena. They pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall via Graham-Leach-Bliley, which allowed for the leveraging (think mortgage-backed securities) that led to the recent financial crisis. They pushed for the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, which is hurting low- and middle-income families struggling through the recent financial crises. Also, the pushed for the George W. Bush era tax cuts that increased the wealth divide.
Political conservatism is traditionally viewed as embodying the ideas of small-government, fiscal restraint, and states’ rights. Conservative people, like the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition, are those who adhere to traditional methods or views. Wealthy, white, patriarchal conservatives like Romney are interested in preserving the status quo. That is why Romney’s I want my country back ethos is troubling. The America of the past 15 years is no longer palatable, particularly the economic policy which has been disastrous for the majority of American citizens.
America will never be fair and balanced as long as one percent of the population controls 99% of the wealth. Money does not grow on trees. Minimum wage does not allow a family to live decently in metropolitan areas. Main street is struggling.
These state of affairs is real for millions of Americans. And that number is growing. Romney does not care about this. He is only interested in preserving his wealth and passing it along to his children. The effort he puts into establishing and maintaining the various domestic and international entities that grow his exorbitant wealth is amazing. We cannot gloss over these things. If he were interested in helping to develop the potential of low-income children in American society, he would have work hard since his retirement in 1999 to change this state of affairs. Instead, he has sought elected office over the past 13 years and sought to grow his wealth.
Romney, like all of the “one-percenters,” would not see any material change in his lifestyle if he used a majority of his wealth to provide low-income children with good schools, good nutrition and good extra-curricular activities for the duration of their K-12 grade period. That would show how much he really cares about America, because his first concern would be for his fellow Americans and not how the American system can help him build more wealth.
In reality, the prosperity pie is finite and large portions of American citizens are only getting crumbs through no fault of their own. I am not advocating wealth redistribution. I am arguing that if Romney wants to help his fellow Americans, he can start opening his accounts for the benefit of systemic child and youth development in low-income areas.
If elected president, Romney will certainly focus on what he has focused on for the past 30 years: tax cuts for corporations and capital gains income. These two issues will certainly make him and his five male heirs wealthier. The cycle, then, just continues for them and those like them. The poor have no chance in 21st century America.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons