Some of my best friends are Republicans. Or, to be more specific, they are a hybrid of fiscal conservative & social democrat. Which is a nice way of saying that when it comes right down to it their pocketbook will be their guide come Election Day.
This, obviously, is their prerogative. And I’m cool with that.
For all the rhetoric from the Democratic Party this election season about how the One Percenters are “not paying their fair share in taxes”, I suspect that the rest of us Ninety-Nine Percenters would make the same choices as Mitt Romney and his peeps if we walked a mile in their wingtips.
I can’t recall what year it was, but I once heard Charles Barkley recount a conversation he’d had with his mother about an upcoming presidential election. After telling her that he would be voting for the Republican candidate that year, Mama Barkley was astonished asked how could even think of doing such a thing. “They only care about rich people!” she reasoned. To which her never-at-a-loss-for-words basketball superstar of a son replied: “Mom, I am a rich person.”
How often have you heard someone say: “If I had 50 million dollars, I would give half to charity, buy homes for everyone in my family, settle all of my best friends’ debt and open a Boys & Girls Club chapter in my neighborhood,” or something similar? If I had a dollar for every time I heard a variation on this theme
I would have 50 million dollars at my disposal today. But how many people actually take such action when the proposition is real as opposed to theoretical?
As altruistic as you and I imagine we’d be if we lived on the sunny side of I’m Rich Biatch Street, nothing precludes the human instinct of self-preservation. When people acquire vast sums of cheddar– whether via success in the NBA, on Wall Street, a Mega-Millions Lottery windfall, dumb luck or an inheritance– the instinct to preserve that capital is hard-wired into the DNA. As is the desire to keep acquiring more and more. Humans also tend not to know when we have enough. Which is pretty remarkable, because in spite of not being able to regulate our own greed we are masters at calculating the precise moment when other people have had enough. At which point words like “greedy bastard”, “the little people” and “fair share” start creeping into the lexicon and our psyches.
To be sure, there are exceptions to this rule: people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Theresa whose choices are dictated by what serves the greater good as opposed to personal gain. But let’s face it. Most people are not exceptional. We are who we are. And 99% of us are just like Charles Barkley.
That Mitt Romney’s tax cuts will be very good for small businesses, corporations and wealthy Americans is inarguable. And a recent visit to Family Court in downtown Manhattan with a friend was all the evidence I needed that Republicans have a very valid point when they claim that our government is bloated, inefficient and wasteful to a nearly criminal degree.
That said, there is more than one way to calculate whether or not Mitt Romney will be an asset when it comes to America’s bottom line. And I hope that some of my best friends will consider all sides of the equation before casting their votes on November 6th.
“You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”
When President Obama spoke these words at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC last night, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up because I’ve been making the same point to my Republican friends for the past seven months. But for some reason, I haven’t been getting through to them.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the last thing my Economics 101 professor at Wesleyan said to me before encouraging me to find my smile in somebody else’s classroom (Hello, English Department!) was: “Gail, Economics is not for everyone. For some people, it can be like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s just not worth it.” Sure, my pride was wounded, but I was secretly relieved for the mercy killing. In fact, my eyes still glaze over when people talk about things like CMBS’s [Collateralized Mortgage Backed Securities], CDS’s [Credit Default Swaps] or QE3’s [not to be confused with the heir apparent to the QE2: the QE3 is a Quantitative Easing Three]. (Can you tell my money-managing honey helped me with these fancy fiscal terms?!).
Still, tyro that I am– even I know that the first law of commerce is: “If I don’t like you, I ain’t gonna’ do business with you.”
A lot of people around the world do not like Mitt Romney.
When the then-presumptive GOP nominee’s ill-timed, ill-conceived and ill-informed question the UK’s preparedness for the Summer Olympics offended London’s Mayor Boris Johnson and turned Romney into the laughingstock of the British press– my knickers were in a twist back home.
I was embarrassed for the United States after hearing Romney’s confrontational tone at last week’s Republican National Convention, and found it reckless of him to announce: “Under my presidency our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.”
Hell, I’d like to see less Gary Cooper circa: “High Noon” and more statesman in my president, but maybe that’s just me.
Even his well-intentioned tribute to a true American hero at the Convention devolved into an inelegant rant when Romney bellowed: “And I don’t doubt that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.”
I wonder what Jesus Christ, Confucius and Albert Einstein would have to say about that? Never mind those still paying the ultimate price for W’s determination to show American muscle when diplomacy might have been more effective?
But back to that man who took one giant leap for mankind…
Contrary to Hollywood stereotypes of astronauts as testosterone-fueled macho men, Armstrong had a reputation for being extremely humble, unassuming and even shy. Something tells me that Romney’s co-opting the original Moon Walker’s good name for political gain probably left him rolling in his grave. While I was left wondering what it would take for American’s to keep Romney on a shorter leash, if not muzzled, when representing his countrymen on a global platform.
Is this the man business leaders want to have as the face of American commerce worldwide?
Is this the best our country can offer when the really big job of bridge-building is on the line with emerging markets in China, Brazil, Russia and India?
Can we really afford to have a leader whose foreign policy is “stuck in a Cold War time warp”, as President Obama has asked?
Like I said, I may not be a genius when it comes to finance, but any kid running a lemonade stand can tell you there is always a cost associated with doing business.
What price is the American public willing to pay for a commander-in-chief who already has a well-documented record for losing friends and inspiring negative headlines when he takes his show on the road?
Will the personal gain of an individual tax break balance the deficit of having to live, work and play in a world where fractured relationships and ill-will toward the United States is on the rise?
If past is prologue, I guess we already know the answers to these questions.
But I’m still putting my money on some of my best friends who, at the end of the day, can spot the difference between a good deal and a deal-breaker from a mile off.