We should all be feeling sorry for Mitt Romney right now.
He should be a running joke around the water cooler: What’s worse than Mitt Romney running for president? Mitt Romney trying to explain to his children why he would do this to them.
Amidst the devastation borne on the wings of the previous Republican administration, for Mitt to pick up that flag, baring that bloody mark of shame and failure, carries all the honor and chutzpah of a friend who has totaled your car coming back to ask if he can borrow your other car.
But absent any prosecutions of the prior administration, or Wall Street, and having had not so much as a truth and reconciliation process (Q: “Senator, did we, or did we not, execute Japanese generals for waterboarding after World War II, because it constituted torture?” A: “Yes, sir, I believe we did.”), the GOP had gotten bold to the point of a giddy foolhardiness. They thought that they could get away with anything.
Romney’s gaffe insulting millions of Americans as useless layabouts (since he does this at least once a week, simply insert most recent gaffe here) was an obvious sore thumb. But it was hardly anything new.
For decades the Republican Party has slowly rolled out a grand con. Americans Are Useless Moochers was the pitch to fool the rubes.
“No, not you,” they said. “Those other people.”
First ‘those other people’ were black. Then they were Mexican. Then they were women. Then they were children. Now, those other people are anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year, and if they own anything at all, it is because, by God, they stole it from the rich!
The GOP plans to take it all, in the name of justice for the downtrodden billionaires, and they are closer every day to simply saying so. Proposals to end the minimum wage, abolish the capital gains tax and privatize social security abound. That giant sucking sound is all the money in Anytown, USA, plus granny’s knickers, and the asphalt that paves the streets, being sucked into the terrifying vortexual oblivion of Wall Street’s forever untouchable offshore accounts.
The bright spot is this: In spite of the best efforts of the media to cast the theft of trillions of dollars from Americans, and the hobbling of democracy itself, all at the hands of conservative ideologues and their corporate sponsors, as somehow simply being a matter of equally-valid-but-conflicting policy prescriptions, Americans are starting to get it.
Americans are beginning to awaken to the fact that something very precious has been stolen, that a sacred trust has been betrayed. And that awareness and frustration is starting to translate into anger.
Many on my ‘side’ of the manufactured American divide lament any talk of anger, as though this emotion is somehow an inappropriate response to decades of murder, theft and terrorism perpetrated upon this country and the world by dark money. They will point, perhaps, to the peaceful uprisings of Arab Spring.
But we should remember: The Arab Spring didn’t begin with high-minded ideals, or by the arrangement of politcos, or on the agendas of revolutionaries.
The Arab Spring began when Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, a common street vendor with no thought at all of revolution, finally grew so weary of the abuse and corruption that he set himself on fire in a protest fueled by personal rage and indignity.
That singular spark ignited a tsunami of the human spirit.
Among the public there is growing disdain for Romney – “Why are you running? You insult our intelligence.” But there is also growing anger with Obama: “Romney shouldn’t have a chance. Why have you not done more to expose these people, to restore justice, to protect us from these predators?”
The billionaires may think that they can buy a populist movement, and progressives may believe we can educate one into existence. That may be true as far as it goes, but the real spark of revolutionary change is likely to come from an individual with no agenda at all, simply a commonly-shared grievance, sparking an act of defiance that unites, inspires – and perhaps ignites – a generation.