Romney’s comments over the line

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By Greg Romberg

Dear Governor Romney:
When I cast my ballot in this year’s presidential election, I plan to vote for President Obama “no matter what.” Having said that, let me disabuse you of the notion that only people you have characterized as “dependent upon government, 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” are committed to voting for the president.

I am not dependent on the government. I do not consider myself a victim. I pay a lot of income tax. I do believe that society has a responsibility to make sure that the collective well-being of its members should be addressed, that many societal needs are more efficiently addressed collectively through government, and that people with resources and means have both a legal and moral obligation to help others, especially those who find themselves in need through no fault of their own.
Contrast your comment that “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” with Hubert Humphrey’s comment that “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
While I never seriously considered voting for you, I’ve told myriad people that while I disagreed with your proposed policies, was concerned that you appeared to be pandering to the most extreme parts of your party’s base and that you are out of touch with issues most Americans face on a day-to-day basis, that I believed you were a decent and ethical man. While I wouldn’t vote for you, I saw no reason to vilify you.
Imagine my shock watching you denigrate everyone who is committed to voting for your opponent as shiftless slackers who support the president because they don’t have the integrity to take care of themselves. The last time we elected a Republican president, George W. Bush told us, “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” This election cycle, you accuse anyone who supports your opponent as being so morally flawed as to never want to take any responsibility for themselves, let alone their fellow human beings.
I understand that you made these remarks at a political event and that in politics it’s tempting to lambaste your opponents, but these comments are way over the line. If you truly believe what you say, how can you reasonably represent people you hold in such contempt? If you were just engaging in the hyperbole of the day, have you shown the proper judgment to hold the most important job in the world?
In any event, I think that based on your body of work as a presidential candidate, including these insulting and divisive comments, that it’s now likely that significantly more that 47 percent of Americans will vote to re-elect the president, no matter what. And that is a good thing.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.