Mitt Romney wakes at 5 AM underneath navy blue billion-thread count sheets at a hotel that costs more per night than the average American family’s car. He rises, wandering downstairs to the hotel’s breakfast banquet in search of something to nibble on to curb the aching hunger for power in his belly when he spots a pristine, silver receptacle with the words “French Roast” engraved proudly on its side. Romney snatches it, tipping about two tablespoons of the devil’s liquid into a white China mug. He looks around for spies before downing the scalding, sinful concoction in one gulp. Five minutes later, overcome with guilt, Romney finds himself with his fingers down his throat in the hotel lobby’s men’s room, vomiting the vile potion into the sink. Looking up into the mirror, Romney finds he doesn’t recognize the man he’s become, and sobs.
It’s 10 AM and Mitt Romney feels dirty. He can still smell the sweat that oozed from his pores 12 hours prior like lava leaking down a cold, unchanging rock face. He opens his portable safe (patent pending) and removes $100,000 in cash, carefully laying each sheet on the bottom of his suite’s claw-foot porcelain tub before turning on the hot water. Mitt strips off his temple garment and adds his secret bath potion—the tears of Wisconsin union workers given to him by Paul Ryan as a special gift—to the water before slowly lowering his body into the steaming green sea.
Mitt Romney decides a lunch with his sweetheart is the only remedy for his abysmally low spirits, and orders a spread up on the hotel’s veranda that rivals Rosie O’Donnell’s thanksgiving feast. After biting into a delectable foie gras made from the youngest, cutest geese in France, Mitt puts his hand on Ann’s thigh and leans in to nuzzle his nose against her cold, eggshell cartilage. “Only winners deserve eskimo kisses, Willard,” she says before removing his hand from her appendage and turning away. The Romneys dive into the second argument they’ve ever had, in which Ann calls him a “nancyboy.”
Still reeling from his smackdown with Ann, Mitt Romney opens his Dell laptop at 4 PM to compose a letter he’ll display on the front page of his website. His fingers punish the silver keys as he outlines every last detail of his plan to create 12 million jobs if the people of America hadn’t been so freaking stupid to not elect him without any specifics. He finishes off his erratic rant with the signoff “SEE you miserable cock suckers on medicare? SEE you unemployed single bitches living off social security? SEE? I WAS RIGHT!!!” Mitt hits post, then hurls his computer out the hotel window before crumpling into a puddle on the floor, once again returning to the solace only weeping can bring.
By 7 PM, Mitt Romney charges into a private study in his hotel fortress and barks at the nearest butler to bring him a glass of warm milk. One-percent in hand, he reaches into his back pocket for his “little black book,” which contains the names of all his classmates at the Crankbrook School. Clutching a marble land line phone, he calls the ten students he bullied most brutally as a child and screams into the receiver, “Just so you know…you’re still totally gay!” or “Your father was a small-time lawyer, now you’re a small-time lawyer, and you’ll die a small-time lawyer!” and finally, “My birthday party was fancier than all the birthday parties, and you’re going to take that to your grave, you cheap bastard!” Mitt hangs up the final call and turns his attention to his new, custom-made dart board: a map of the U.S. with states highlighted in red and blue based on last night’s results. He screams in agony when he accidentally hits only red states, sits down in a massive leather wingback, and cries softly into his now lukewarm milk.
- Natalie Berkley
When Mitt Romney’s now-infamous “47%” comments were made public, the Republican presidential nominee first said they were “not elegantly stated” and later went further, saying they were “just completely wrong.” The general sentiment behind them, though, underlies Romney’s entire campaign and is still pleasing his supporters: the idea that vast numbers of Americans vote Democratic because they’ve come to take government for granted, because they want a big government that will coddle them instead of a small government that will force them to actually work for their daily bread.
I wonder, though, whether it’s not actually Republican voters who are the ones taking government for granted.
Certainly there’s a substantial portion of the Republican base who understand the implications of the GOP’s tax-slashing policy and welcome its outcome. There are the libertarian types who have their loaded guns and are ready for an unregulated Mad Max world, and there are the wealthy voters who would prefer to spend their money on private schools and private security forces and private parks for themselves and their children rather than funding public schools and public police forces and public parks for everyone.
Then, though, there are the millions and millions of Republican voters like the people I went to high school with, working-class and middle-class voters who tend to agree with Republicans on social issues and have been convinced that they agree with the GOP on economic issues as well. It’s these voters who I believe are the ones really taking government for granted in this election-year debate.
One of my high school classmates, for example, recently posted a Facebook status complaining about her family’s rising health insurance premiums, blaming them on the large numbers of uninsured people who her insurance company is telling her she’s footing the bill for. Arguing that Obamacare is only going to make her premiums go up, she said she hopes the President doesn’t get a second term. When I pointed out that Obama’s plan is specifically designed to reduce the number of uninsured, she shot back that she doesn’t like the idea of being forced to buy anything—such as health insurance—when her family is already struggling.
While I sympathize with my classmate’s tight economic situation, I was left thinking of Larry David in the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry argues with his doctor to change a waiting-room policy that’s inconvenient for Larry, then later in the episode argues that the doctor should change it back when it’s no longer convenient for him. “Apparently,” a nurse says, “it’s not about the policy at all. It’s more just about you going first.” That’s exactly what it’s about, Larry is honest enough to answer.
This is the group of voters who applaud when Romney promises to get the government out of their way—to cut regulations, and to cut taxes. This is the “We Built It” voter who imagines every cent of tax money being deposited straight in the bank account of an lazy unemployed guy who lies in his easy chair, chuckling about the wonderful folly of a system that picks the pockets of hardworking Americans to provide him with food, shelter, and health care.
Who’s the one taking government for granted, though? It’s not the unemployed voter who is in reality finding—unemployed people, back me up on this one—health care, food, and shelter not so easy to come by. It’s those hardworking Republican voters who seem to see right through all the ways government is using their taxes very well right under their noses every day.
There’s Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, of course—the big federal programs—but there are also industry subsidies and building programs such as those funded by Obama’s stimulus package. Then there are the state and local programs that are feeling the squeeze of reduced federal funding: highway construction and schools and fire departments and public defenders and police officers. It’s mayors and governors who take the heat for cuts to those programs; sometimes that’s justified, but often local officials’ hands are tied by the federal subsidy reductions resulting from all those tax cuts my high school classmates are so enthusiastically calling for.
This isn’t just a subjective impression: it’s a plain fact that red states are more likely than blue states to get more in federal expenditures than they pay in taxes. Per capita, federal aid to Republican and Democratic voters is closely comparable. When Republicans vote to reduce the size of the government against the wishes of Democrats, I wonder whether people like my high school classmates really understand that it’s truly a matter of “this will hurt you even more than it hurts me.”
One of my classmates, at least, does understand that. Like me, from age five to age 18 he attended schools where we were taught to be single-issue voters, rejecting any pro-choice candidate no matter what the other issues at stake were. Now, though, he’s considering running for state office as a Democrat. Why? His views on abortion haven’t changed: he’s still pro-life. What’s changed is his understanding of what Republican administrations have done to our government at every level.
My friend is an attorney working in the county court systems, helping children and other vulnerable individuals who enter those courts with little money or understanding of the law as it concerns themselves. He also volunteers as a firefighter. He’s the kind of real American hero Mitt Romney or George W. Bush would love a good photo op with, but he’s seen up close what the policies of the Bush Administration—policies a Romney Administration would return to—have done. They’ve left courts overburdened and children vulnerable. They’ve made it hard for towns to afford the firefighting equipment they need to keep families safe. My friend is a devout Christian, but he doesn’t see much Christian love for one’s neighbor in Republican pledges to reduce the size of government no matter what.
Are Romney voters aware of this Faustian bargain they’re making with a man who promises to get out of their way? If he’s as good as his word, my high school classmates may find that the day will come when they lose their jobs and there are no unemployment benefits; when their children go to court and there’s no one to defend them; when their house is burning and the town’s only fire truck is busy. True to his word, Mitt Romney will be far, far out of their way.
Young Mitt Romney, or “The Mitt” to friends and family, stands aboard a speedboat zipping into the blood-orange, half-circle setting sun on the western horizon. Miami is in the distance. The wind blows his hair back (but not too back). There are two other passengers: Chip, his stockbroker buddy in Bermuda shorts and expensive shades (Chip has nothing of relevance to say…ever) and a woman—not his wife—blonde, beautiful, straddling a fruit basket in the boat’s front seat. The year is 1981. The Mitt is young (single), rich, handsome in a Northeast-prep school sorta way, and appears confident, as if God himself had just whispered into Mitt’s ears when no one was looking: “you’ve fucking got this, Mitt.” A cigar is in his pocket, too. Purely decorative.
Chip (C): Why ya even bother with it, Mitt?
The Mitt (M): Aww, come on, Chip! The first million by 30. The second million on the cab ride home from the first, huh?
C: I just don’t want to see you, ya know, waste this. (Chip gestures to the open water. He then swigs a craft beer.)
The Blonde (B): Chip, shut up. He’ll own this someday. He’ll own you. Isn’t that right, Mitt?
M: That might not be the only thing I’ll own (He gives her oneofthoselooks).
The boat party approaches its destination, a white yacht, where a dinner party seems to be commencing.
B: Did you RSVP for me? She asks, leaning on his broad shoulders with both hands.
M: (whispering) That shouldn’t be a problem. You come to expect a little more with me.
C: So I’m covered, too?
B and M together: Shut up, Chip.
Every former-white-rapper knows his base: rednecks. Rednecks aren’t able to actually come out and like hip-hop because Lil Wayne stickers don’t look dope on a four-wheeler. But, white guys rapping next to chipped-paint barns and whiskey distilleries pass the test. And with former-super-redneck candidate Rick Perry (“these bills have too many words!”) now gone from the competition, and Ron Paul a little too cerebral (“all those prep boy conservatives like him!”), Romney is the last, best hope for young rednecks everywhere who think “contraception” is either a rolled-up Wal-Mart bag or a new truck part carried at Fleet Farm.
Strippers always dance better to conservative kingpins. While I still maintain birdbrain, liberal do-gooder Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” is the only thing I want playing on the jukebox in my fictional strip club, most male stripping fantasies involve women taking clothes off to songs that (perhaps not ironically) flaunt debauched American values. I.E., no one’s taking clothing off to Cat Stevens’s “Peace Train.” Greed + illicit sex + polar bear rugs + hemi-powered, Slash guitar riffs are definitely the turf of Bain Capital execs.
Kid Rock’s real name is Robert James “Bob” Ritchie. Have you ever met a guy with three first names who doesn’t sympathize with at least a few planks of the John Birch Society platform?
Kid Rock’s career is like the Mitt Romney verbal slip-up personified. If Mitt’s not winning over “everyman” credentials by saying he pals around with guys who OWN NASCAR teams or betting hamburger flippers $10,000 they can get the grease off their company-issue khakis with his new stain-away product, he’s sending out press releases apologizing for verbal misfires. But, Kid Rock can sympathize. He’s the one whose summer-hit (REMEMBER!?) “All Summer Long” did the musicology no-no of lyrically referencing “Sweet Home Alabama” while actually sampling Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” (It’s okay, though, because he appears on the album cover wearing an Alabama b-ball jersey.) And who can forget “Bawitdaba,” which sounds like something that would stammer out of Romney’s mouth in a presidential debate when Obama asks him why he thinks a 15% effective tax rate is “hey, whatevs!” for a guy who makes nearly twice my annual salary—EVERY DAY!