Governor Mitt Romney’s statement before a room full of potential campaign contributors and donors about America’s 47 percent more than gave MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell more fodder for a left wing rant. It gave us some insight into Mitt Romney’s inability to lead.
According to the Republican candidate in the May 17, 2012 video released first by Mother Jones, 47 percent of the American electorate will not vote for him, no matter what he does. In his words:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, 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”.
Mr. Romney goes on to say that it was not “his job to worry about those people”; that he would not be able to convince them to take personal responsibility for themselves. Mr. Romney instead intends to focus on the swing voters in the middle, that five or ten percent that may vote one way or the other in this election.
First of all, I’ve never heard anyone refer to almost half the country as a lazy bunch of government freeloaders. In essence that is Mr. Romney’s definition of the proportion of the population supporting President Obama.
Mr. Romney may have also gone overboard with his statistics. Only one in seven Americans are on food stamps. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, approximately 30 million to 40 million Americans did not have health insurance. Approximately 8.1% of the American labor force is unemployed. These core characteristics of Mr. Romney’s downtrodden beggars for alms at the city gates don’t add up to 47% of the American electorate.
Mr. Romney is right about one thing, however. It’s not his job to show Americans how to be personally responsible. He is not required to.
His statement was pragmatic only to the extent that he won’t win over Obama supporters, not at this point in the campaign, as if he really wanted to in the first place.
It is his job, however, to lead. As part of the government it will be, should he win the election, his job to help manage the economy. Can he afford to ignore idle labor resources? Would he be able to turn his back on a shrinking level of productivity resulting from sub-optimal use of labor? Would he be able to ignore the social strife that comes with it?
Maybe he would have had a better shot at winning more of the 47% if he had some specific answers.