In what was perhaps his most well-articulated and clearly spoken oration to date, presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently captured the attention of media and the public at large after commenting that he didn’t need to be concerned with 47% of the American public. That concern emerged after Romney was caught on hidden camera during a private speech to a group of campaign donors Sept. 18. Romney’s comments triggered feelings of unease throughout America by disregarding a huge percentage of the voter base, and have since destabilized his campaign ground in several swing states.
The issue with Romney’s comment stems from its implications—that nearly half of America is dependent on government, and therefore favor President Obama; meaning that they cannot be won by his campaign, and that he shouldn’t even focus on them to begin with. It doesn’t end there, however, as many have claimed that Romney’s statements while unknowingly on camera lack his normal awkwardness before a crowd, implying perhaps that this is the “real Romney” we’re seeing stating his beliefs. Alienating nearly half the country may not sound like a good idea, and so far Romney has already felt a sting from the voter base. Recent polls indicate that Romney has actually lost ground in the swing states he sought to focus on, even after admitting to Fox News that he “was completely wrong” to make those comments to begin with (although he was actually referring to the presentation, not the nature of the comments).
The video footage has been picked up rapidly by the Obama campaign, leading to widespread campaign advertising featuring original footage being broadcast in swing states around the country. The videos propose that Romney has taken the wrong turn and gone against the very same people (the “middle” in his words) whose favor he sought to gain. Romney was indeed speaking to the rich, the upper class, referring to the bulk of America as unimportant; and all while at a campaign benefit for his best donors in an “inward enough” small-scale meeting of the minds. Before his 47 percent comments, Romney also asked for “campaign ideas,” being happy to “accept advice” from the room full of well-dressed donors. The whole event (and Romney’s speech) implies is that he is driven solely by his donators’ interests rather than the 47 percent of America he refuses to even focus on.
Such has been the opinion of many Americans for years now—though not necessarily of Romney by name—that American politicians are driven by corporate interest rather than the public interest. By dividing the American public into winnable and unwinnable factions, Romney is showing that he cares little for the opinions of nearly half the nation. If he were elected, would he simply continue to disregard half of America, or would he suddenly decide their opinions are valid? This same argument can be made of Obama, along with many other politicians, that they are less concerned with the people and more concerned with the corporate side of the nation.
A bigger issue however, might simply be the fact that Romney, and Obama, along with nearly every other political candidate for the last several decades are dividing the nation into classes. There are classes they can win, classes they can’t and then there’s the middle. Candidates begin at either extreme, appealing to the core power base of their respective party (the donors, the hard right and left) to gain monetary support, then slowly work their way towards a middle ground when it comes down to winning swing states in the election. Why should candidates wait until near the end of an election to focus on everyone instead of alienating half or more of the country? Should not a candidate start their campaign by trying to form a platform that appeals to a REAL majority of the country instead of favoring small percentages of well-endowed donors? A solution may only lie in a reimagining of modern campaigning along with, perhaps, ignorance of political parties altogether.