It’s as much the words as the tone. Now we know what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney means by "you people." You are the ones not born with silver spoons in your mouths. If you haven’t made it in the land of limited opportunity, then you must be pathetic, slothful and not worth a hoot.
You expect to have health care, food on the table and education in the richest country on Earth? Scrounger! How dare you work hard, pay your taxes and play by the rules and expect a reward for your effort? That’s the message and its tone being delivered daily by Romney, the privately educated school prankster who never had to clean dirt from under his nails.
Romney speaking to “his people” about "you people" in the tone of sneering elitism is the same talk I’ve heard all my life from those who have a sense of gross entitlement obtained from having life handed to them on a silver platter. His recent speech was not off the cuff. The words are engrained in every fiber of his person, and you can hear them at many society dinners or country clubs, or parroted by so-called conservatives who echo Romney’s worldview.
He sincerely believes the rich, indeed, built America by themselves. I wonder how many in Romney’s class have trade journeyman’s cards. The idea that Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society is a plot to take money away from the “builders” is how they think in their Ayn Rand bubble. To think otherwise demeans their own sense of self-worth: Without them, we would be nothing. Romney’s class certainly doesn’t want anyone looking too closely at the reasons for the Great Depression and the Great Recession and how "they" saved the nation’s collective bacon.
Great nations rarely fall from without, it is corruption within that brings them crashing down. When the wealth of a nation is sucked into the gaping maws of excess and self-centered aggrandizement, the rot begins. When a handful of plutocrats believe they not only can buy an election but have the inalienable right to do so, the rot is fatal.
Great nations are built by personal sacrifice and effort when all participate and believe that participation enriches theirs as well as their neighbors’ lives, not by the accumulation of power by the few.
When offhandedly dismissing whole swathes of the population — the poor, immigrants, people of color and women — as many conservatives have been doing, the very foundations of the country erode. Working people laid the bricks and the pipes for his mansions, not Romney.
If anyone really wanted to trumpet our success as a nation, he would say this:
• Look at America where no one goes hungry.
• Look at America where everyone’s health care is a priority.
• Look at America where everyone has equal access to education.
• Look at America where equality really matters and is not based on race, gender or creed.
• Look at America, we built it together.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. His books are available on Amazon.com: "Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status" and "A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools." He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.