Romney’s entitlement and the 2012 elections

ESTERO, Fla. – Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and far-right Republicans love to throw around the word “entitlement.” They always call Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other people helping programs “entitlements.” What breathtaking hypocrisy!

The underlying idea of such hypocrisy is these programs are “freebees,” which “takers” feel they are “owed.” The use of the word is designed to reinforce the notion of dependency. Or as Romney so blatantly put it in a speech to his multi-millionaire friends about 47 percent of Americans, they are people “who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it; that that’s an entitlement, and the government should give it to them.”

Of course working people pay taxes all their lives to support Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Working families’ taxes support all the other “people helping” programs, too. As has been pointed out numerous times in this election cycle, secretaries often pay a higher tax rate to build and support these programs than their CEO bosses and billionaires pay.

There is really nothing new in the far right’s use of coded language to muddle and confuse. For example, there are “right-to-work” laws. They are, in fact, anti-union laws used to steal collective bargaining rights and drive down wages for working people.

Still there is something about the word “entitlement” that does ring true in this election cycle. Just watch Romney in a debate or on the stump. You see real entitlement in action. It’s not just his imperial CEO-in-the-boardroom manner. He interrupts, he showers a know-it-all contempt on his audience. And watch the pained expression on his face when the president, or the moderator, or anyone else is speaking. Romney’s impatience does real battle with his shaky self-control. You almost expect that snarky smile to crack wide open on his face.

Romney is clearly driven by his fierce belief that he is entitled to the presidency.

This explains his obvious disdain for the 47 percent he described. His whole attitude cries out, “how can such riffraff stand between me and my true birthright?” His first statement about the 47 percent was that they were people who would not vote for him. That was what really bothered Romney about the 47 percent. How can such people stand between him and his true destiny? He gives not one whit about Social Security, or Medicare. No, what really bothers him is the idea that anyone would not recognize his divine right to rule.

So it’s no big surprise that Romney was caught in a June 6 conference call, hosted by the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business, instructing employers on how to tell their employees to vote on Nov. 6. How about that for entitlement? By lying to workers about losing their jobs if the president is reelected, Romney is sure they will vote his way. King Romney meets with the Lords to instruct them on how to hand down edicts from above. Feudal lord entitlement was based on a whole series of relationships, based on rulers and the ruled understanding clearly to what positions birthright and divine right entitled them. Monarchy was true entitlement.

But, sorry, Romney. Those days of wealthy entitlement are over. Whole armies of working people are gathering their voting rights “pitch forks” and marching on polling places all over this country to end your long-discredited notions of entitlement.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr


Scott Marshall
Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is chair of the Communist Party's Labor Commission. Scott grew up in Virginia where he first became active in the civil rights movement in high school, working on voter registration and anti-Klan projects in rural Southern Virginia and Tennessee. He was also active against the war in Vietnam. Scott has been a life long trade unionist and was active in rank and file reform movements in the Teamsters, Machinists and Steelworkers unions in the 1970s and '80s. He was co-chair of the Save Our Jobs committee of USWA local 1834 at Pullman Standard in Chicago and active in nationwide organizing against plant shutdowns and layoffs. He was a founder of the unemployed organization Jobs or Income Now (Join), in Chicago, and the National Congress of Unemployed Organizations in the 1980s. Scott remains active in SOAR (Steelworkers Active Organized Retirees). He lives in Chicago.