Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Makers And Takers

There are two different stories today, about two different political bullies, who both really showed us their true selves this week - Mitt Romney and Rahm Immanuel. While you might think these two men have nothing in common, other than their overpriced suits and their overinflated egos, you'd be wrong.

In the case of Immanuel, the Chicago teachers' strike has been a brutal rebuttal to the Mayor's constant attacks on Chicago educators. In Immanuel's latest bullying attempt on Monday, he went to court to try and force teachers back to work before their union members had a chance to review the new contract details. The court rebuffed the Mayor soundly, though the Court does expect the Teachers Union to vote today.

As we touched on last week, the teacher strike wasn't about money. It was about professional concerns, like class size and effective evaluation. Simply pinning teacher evaluation to standardized test results, as Immanuel wanted, helps neither the kids nor the educators.

Rahm Immanuel's biggest failure was in underestimating the bond between Chicago's parents and those people who educate their kids. It's obvious that Immanuel and the Chicago School board thought they knew better than the professionals in the classroom and the parents of those students how they should be educated. When polled, more than 55% of voters in Chicago backed the teachers - including two-thirds of parents with kids in public school. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Chicago voters blamed either the school board or the Mayor - but not the teachers - for the failures that have led to the strike.

In the case of Mitt Romney, he has no one to blame but himself for the speech he gave which may have put the final nail in the coffin of his political career.

That speech, leaked to journalist David Corn, contains video of Mr. Romney speaking at a private Republican fundraiser earlier this year. In his address, Romney contemputously identifies 47% of Americans, saying "[they] believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." Romney finishes his screed by saying, "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In saying this, Romney displays his complete adoption of the 'makers & takers' theory from the extremist libertarian right. Romney's comments also completely blow away any strain of more compassionate conservatism. Those that believe if they could just reach that 47% of Americans with the message conservatives believe in, they might be able to change the minds of the non-conservatives have no place in Mr. Romney's vision, as his attitude is obvious: "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives" - so why even try?

For the record, Jim Messina, the Obama for America campaign manager gave a pitch-perfect reply to Romney's heartless video, simply saying "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

What both Mitt Romney and Rahm Immanuel have in common should be clear by now. Both appear to think they know better then those they serve, and neither man seems to feel humbled about his position. Rather, both men seem to display a 'divine right' kind of arrogance, as though they deserve the opportunities that have come their way, and if others didn't catch the same luck? Well, screw them.

If there truly are 'makers and takers" in America, it's clear exactly which category both Mitt Romney and Rahm Immanuel fall into: that of failed takers.

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