this is such a good point. my mom* emailed me last night: “You and the Romneys have something in common — you both had basement apartments when you were in college. (Learned from Ann Romney’s speech.)” I joked back “well, that’s the only thing (besides the fact that we’re both ostensibly human, I guess)”—but there are actually a lot of things we have in common, namely the fact that we’re white & were lucky enough to be born into privilege.
I still talk shit about that basement apartment—the first place that my now-husband & I ever officially shared. (unlike the Romneys, we were perfectly happy to spend five years living in sin.) it was infested with centipedes, & compared to where we’ve lived since, it was gross. I was a college student, my husband was a PhD student, & we were “poor”—but through it all, there was the understanding that it was temporary, that we were still in the process of achieving our future earning potential. (the nod to Common People is absolutely appropriate; I tried not to be too greedy about my parents’ money when I was in college—& I started paying my own way as soon as I graduated—but they were supporting me back then, & I never would’ve had to worry about getting thrown out if I somehow couldn’t make rent.)
of course, the differences between me & Ann Romney are legion, but here’s one: I’m still far, far from rich, & yet I also seem to have an infinitely better understanding of how lucky I am to be where I am today. I had no control over being born white, to educated parents who placed a value on my own academic success, who had the financial security to provide me with four years of support while I was in college & to pay tuition at a private school that surely helped secure me a spot at an elite university.
it’s not that I didn’t work hard; it’s not that Ann & Mitt didn’t work hard, in their own ways. but there are plenty of hardworking Americans—people who likely work harder than we ever have, or will ever have to—for whom our respective basement apartments would probably seem luxurious. who want(ed) desperately to go to college, but couldn’t make it happen due to their other responsibilities & limited resources.
the whole bootstrap philosophy, & Ann Romney’s posture of “I’m just like you; see, I once had to (sort of) struggle,” seems calculated to seduce lower-income Americans into voting against their own interests. Republicans are selling the idea that ANYone can become rich eventually: as long as you let the already-rich folk do what they want, you’ll be able to join them soon enough, I promise. (oh, & do you feel skeeved out by gay people &/or female sexual agency? we’ve got you covered there too.)
I just really, really hope it doesn’t work this time. Mitt’s wealth & seeming lack of a personality make him a fitting face for the party; he’s like a mannequin, & you don’t need depth when you’re being used to promote an aspirational ideal.
but if he ends up winning, it’ll mean that the United States has chosen to elect a living ad campaign instead of a compassionate leader with a demonstrated track record of actually improving the lives of American citizens. that hate, fear, & the dream of being rich won out over realism. & that just makes me sick.
if you want to vote Republican because you think Obama’s a Kenyan Muslim sleeper cell or the idea of gay marriage/abortion rights is so abhorrent to you that it trumps everything else…fine; I can’t stop you. but if you think the Romneys know what life is like for almost anyone else in this country, or that Mitt’s policies would actually benefit anyone but his fellow one-percenters…you’re basically just allowing yourself to be lied to.
*I feel compelled to point out that both my parents are pro-Obama. & also compelled to express disbelief that this post got so long.