Obama may have failed to nail him for calling nearly half the nation parasites, and Romney may have beat a hasty retreat from the beans he spilled in a private moment among rich friends, but Americans should heed the core truth it revealed.
If President Obama wins re-election, historians may view Mitt
Romney's now infamous "47 percent dependent" remark as the decisive
turning point. But the comment has deeper implications than the election
It weakens the long-term credibility of right-wing political
discourse on dependency and welfare. And it will help transform the
public's understanding of capitalism, as Americans see that those most
dependent on government are corporate elites, turning upside down our
ideas of who is parasitical.
In the first debate, Romney never mentioned the 47 percent and Obama,
in a devastating blunder, never called him on it. And just two days
later, Romney did his ultimate etch-a-sketch and said his comments had
been "completely wrong."
But the now-infamous comments will not fade away since they are the
heart of right-wing philosophy and Romney's agenda. They tell the core
conservative narrative of "producers versus parasites" and they reveal
the nasty realities of capitalism crucial to understanding our economic
system and decline.
Romney defined the 47 percent as those Americans who feel entitled to
government benefits, don't pay income taxes and are parasitical in the
sense that, "I'll never convince them they should take personal
responsibility and care for their lives."
The potent right-wing narrative on which Romney builds is that
society is always divided between a class of producers or "strivers,"
and one of parasites. The producers are private sector employers and
their workers, who create wealth. The parasites are government workers
and the needy depending on government benefits, especially welfare.
It has now become dogma among Republicans that the government is
inherently incapable of generating wealth, that it can only be a leech,
draining resources away from private individuals and corporations, who,
if unfettered, would bring untold prosperity to all.
The Republican anti-parasite narrative teaches that society can
prosper only when the producers dominate the parasites and keep them
from destroying wealth, progress, the work ethic and the broader health
of society. In an economic crisis, the 47 percent, specifically white
workers, could turn against their corporate employers and even
capitalism itself. However, the narrative tells them the source of their
troubles are government, the Left and shiftless parasites.