Mitt Romney isn’t a bad guy because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Mitt Romney isn’t a bad candidate for president because he is a multimillionaire with three large homes. We the people have enjoyed the results of successful presidents from many points in the American spectrum; rich, poor, and middle of the road. The problem for Mitt Romney the candidate, is that he does represent the kind of business that has nearly destroyed our way of life, and did destroy the lives of millions of our fellows.
Mitt Romney is a corporate raider; Mitt Romney is a Wall Street vulture. Mitt Romney is a believer in the notion that wealth harvested from fancy takeovers is as pure as that earned by the sweat of the working class. The former Governor of Massachusetts and savior of the Salt Lake Olympics was a founder of Bain Capital, a firm that specialized in building wealth for its partners by stripping away the value from other firms. To be sure, Romney didn’t invent the corporate raider, and he didn’t violate any laws that we have heard. Romney was true to all the values he was raised with, and it is that point that is concerning, because his are the values that have defined our nation since the early 80’s. America, during the last thirty years, has begun to prize a very different definition of success than that acknowledged during the bulk of our national golden age. Wealth has become synonymous with achievement, and great wealth at that. And the type of wealth it takes to succeed in Mitt Romney’s America is only available to those individuals who can be partners at firms like Bain.
Romney’s America has become appealing because normal Americans believe it helps them. We the people watch, and have watched for years, local and national news broadcasts that never fail to report the results from the New York Stock Exchange. Average Americans that have no concept of finance, no clue about management, and no tolerance for economics, know where the Dow Jones ended that day. And in a nation that is fascinated with the lotteries that flood the countryside, the idea that someone could, through hard work and luck, make billions in the stock market has great appeal. The fact that most Americans have been set-up to depend on the very same stock market for their retirement completes the picture. Wall Street’s success is now our success, and the Mitt Romney’s of the world are as impressive to us in our middle age, as professional athletes were to us in our youth.
Romney’s Bain Capital started life as a venture capital firm; it literally bet on promising younger firms, providing them with expansion funds in return for good paydays when the companies matured. Venture capital is a very real component of the American Dream; when Mr. Romney points to Staples, he legitimately calls attention to a firm that became successful due to Bain’s bet, and employs many people. But for every Staples, there is a GS Industries, a firm on which Bain made $58 million before closing it down. And for every firm like Staples that reaches stardom thanks to a venture capitalist, there are thousands of local companies that get their money the old-fashioned way; they borrow it.
And that is the disconnect that Mitt Romney should be concerned about; if only he could understand. The stock market is not a good barometer for the American economy, because the stock market is not nearly as important to America as we have been led to believe. Thirty years of policy, both fiscal and monetary, has been focused on driving investment in the market. Thirty years of policy, both legislative and executive, has been focused on reducing the regulatory impediments on firms like Bain. The results could not be more clear:
Folks, I am a capitalist with a twenty year career in management. I am a business consultant with a MBA. I have a healthy love of cash, a healthy desire for success, and very little envy of those who have both. What I disregard, wholly and unequivocally, is a three decade policy path that leaves most of the nation behind. You might suggest that the last thirty years has given the least motivated less handouts, but I challenge you to assert that so much of the population counts as under-motivated. Romney and his team, at this very moment, are screaming “class warfare”. If that be the case, then it has existed for many years, and the class they fear is only now firing their first shot.
Mr. Romney, classically, wants it both ways. He is prepared to assign blame to President Obama for jobs lost in January and February of 2009, despite the fact that Mr. Obama didn’t take office until January 20, 2009. President Obama, Romney points out, was the President. Mr. Romney, ever the gymnast, is also prepared to ignore the jobs created during every month since President Obama’s first budget took effect. Mr. Romney, ever the victim of selective amnesia, is also prepared to take credit for jobs created when he was the Governor of Massachusetts, despite the fact that there was, in fact, a man sitting in the President’s chair at the same time. Mr. Romney, ever the hypocrite, wants to ignore the cost side of the cost/benefit calculation, and only count the jobs created by Bain Capital (and especially those created long after Romney had left the firm.) This child of good fortune has yet to subtract from his so-called net the jobs lost due to restructuring, and outsourcing, and re-imagining in the firms bought by Bain.
I don’t know Mitt Romney. He looks like a guy who loves his wife and family; he sounds like a guy who is committed to his friends. I assume he cares about America, I assume he cares about Americans; I just don’t believe he knows the real America, and I don’t believe he knows many real Americans. Mitt Romney is probably a wonderful guy, but he is a terrible candidate.
The Rational Middle is listening…