Commentary: Mitt Romney’s Divisive Worldview

Romney is in a self-inflicted storm after his statements about the electorate — and the country.

Posted: 09/18/2012 03:27 PM EDT

So, now we know that, in Mitt Romney’s worldview, half of the country consists of people who are helplessly addicted to government services. They don’t pay taxes and are so utterly dependent on the government that they are “victims,” who mindlessly cleave to Barack Obama’s presidency.

The latest storm is the result of comments that Romney made while speaking to a group of wealthy Republican donors in a posh Boca Raton, Florida, estate — not knowing that his remarks were being secretly recorded. Speaking with a candor that has completely eluded his public pronouncements, Romney made clear how he views the electorate — and the country.

In the video, which was published by Mother Jones magazine, the millionaire Republican presidential nominee stated bluntly that Obama supporters will vote for the president “no matter what.” Romney said that they account for “47 percent” of voters, and he does not “worry about those people.”

"There are 47 percent who are with him,” Romney said, referring to the president, “who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

If Romney is looking for a way to relate to the concerns of everyday working men and women, he has once again selected a most unusual tactic.

It is shocking enough to hear a candidate for president of the United States say that he is unconcerned about nearly half of the country. It is horrifying to hear a candidate so crassly divide the country he seeks to lead.

And who are these government-dependent "victims?” Is it the parent assisting her college-bound child to secure a government grant? Is it the elderly man awaiting his social security check? Is it the servicewoman who served in Iraq seeking benefits from federal veterans’ programs? Is it the factory worker whose position was eliminated and who is now seeking unemployment compensation? And who are these legions of Obama supporters who don’t pay taxes?

Again, Romney has demonstrated how hopelessly out of touch he is with the lives of average Americans — despite his wife’s charming reminiscences at the Republican National Convention of a struggling, newlywed life of pasta and tuna fish.

Once the avalanche of criticism came, Romney called an uncharacteristically hasty press conference to add perspective to his words. Even that was baffling, with the Republican candidate stating essentially that he meant precisely what he said in the remarks. While the most loyal of Romney’s far right disciples have stuck with him, others have added their voices to the well deserved disapproval.

As a man who has built a political campaign attacking President Obama as someone intent on dividing the country, Romney has proven himself to be a most striking divider, writing off people wholesale. After all, Americans are not looking for a president for their views or political party. Americans want a leader who seeks to be president of the entire nation.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


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