We had some sympathy when Mitt Romney mouthed off about the appalling murder of a brave and highly regarded Ambassador in Libya, although America surely cannot afford a man as President who is not more politically aware, and in control. Just as a US spokesman on Newsnight said it was not about a rather awful film, despite any defence of filmic ‘free speech’, or Libyans all being fundamentalists and up in arms either, but specific terrorists targeting of an embassy. In such circumstances though, especially during an election, words and emotions are bound to run high. Perhaps those advisors are failing again.

But now comes a mobile phone film and his comments about forty-seven percent of Americans being effectively “on the social”. Unfortunate that everyone is on film nowadays, or in fear of it, like Gordon Brown’s captured outburst about that “stupid woman”. Itself oddly corrosive to real freedom of expression, even, at times, healthy democracy. Which needs politicians in charge of their own consciences, not push button slaves to a politically correct electorate, nor the supposed outrage of the media. Who would want to be a politician these days, and if you don’t get brave or good people, you probably get the government you deserve. God help us when the Drones arrive.

It also appears, rather startlingly over here, that 47% of Americans do not pay income tax, although they pay other kinds of tax. Perhaps it will spark a useful debate then, as another intelligent young Republican commentator said on Newsnight. But that film footage does so clearly show the stamp and thinking of a man who can talk so brazenly about how to play an election, and dismiss whoever those 47% are, or why, including many Republicans. He has just very possibly lost himself an election, though we feel Obama would have won it anyway. We’ll see in these coming televised debates how they stand up and how an electorate really listens. It’s just so cynical though, if both sides are clearly capable of that, and just such a misunderstanding too, both of how so many people neither want to cadge off the “State”, nor very often are capable of finding a fair playing field in a world that can bull-dose over them, especially at particular points of crisis in their lives. Hence banks bending over backwards to peddle credit, but cutting the rug from under small business when the crisis hit. But also ignorant of what it means for everyone to have and be given some stake in their society.

We still think most truly great US presidents have been instinctive Democrats too, or actual ones, but the real issue is not just welfare, but the growing disparity between the haves and have nots, and the imbalance between being on the ladder, having a chance of getting on it, and being wiped out falling off it, as those in the money pot get openly protected by a system not allowed to fail. Money is a class system in America too though, as big as any UK class system. Instinct here says the world does not owe anyone a living, experience that some social intervention is not only inevitable, in building cities, services and laws that protect us all, it is profoundly civilising. It is also necessary to stimulate economies. Obama is a very civilised man, if a bit red in the face when he made the fabulous gaff of talking through God Save The Queen at Buck Palace, poor love. We wonder if Romney is. But it is the gap and the glaring abuses that are causing anti-capitalism riots, or confusion and fear everywhere about how the system works, and if Romney thinks that somehow irrelevant, he should just be voted down as being an idiot.


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Filed under America and the UK, Culture, Education

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