Because Poor People Don’t Vote!
The political machine known as Mitt Romney has a few bugs that need to be tweaked in his circuitry. Namely, the political circuitry that is Mitt’s brain sometimes glitches and a little tiny byte of truth escapes from his mount. I don’t know if this is something in his wiring or just bad programming. Either way, his handlers better get some engineers to work trying to figure out the problem before the general election.
The short-circuit in play now is Romney’s statement that he is “not concerned about the very poor.” The circuitry in the campaign regions of his mind responded as demonstrated below:
Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor ”
Romney’s Brain: Zzzzt. Warning. Warning. Unauthorized Random Statement of Truth (URST) release. Initiate damage control protocol.
Romney: “We have a safety net there ”
To give the Romneybot credit, this transition happened seamlessly. It’s as if he really knew what he was saying. After all, there is a safety net. Why worry about the very poor?
The inconvenient truth for Romney, however, is that he has no regard for the social safety net and has even less intention of “fixing” any aforementioned holes unless any more than destroying a village actually saves it. Let us not forget that Romney not only endorsed Paul Ryan’s vivisection of the social safety net, but actually one-upped the notorious neo-con in cruelty toward the poor. So the immediate default to the safety net was nothing more than an automatic rerouting of political circuitry.
Indeed, Romney isn’t concerned about the very poor because they will have very little influence on his goals. Romney wants to be president not out of a sense of patriotism or public service, not because he wants to represent all Americans or because he believes in any grandiose vision for the nation. No. Romney wants to be president because, doggonit, it’s his turn to be president!
Toward that end, the very poor play a minimal role. Poor people don’t vote, at least not in any appreciable way. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008 only about half of poor and low income citizens registered to vote. Of that ~50% only about 40% actually showed up at the polls. So, in any real sense, only about 20% of poor people will vote in 2010.
So when it comes to politics, the poor are empirically irrelevant. They are especially irrelevant to the Republican Party. According to the Pew Research Center, only about 15% of low income Americans identify themselves as Republicans. A few years back CNN noted that over 60% of low income Americans vote Democratic. So, at best, Romney can predict that only around 10% of low income Americans are going to pull the lever for Romney in 2012.
So of course Romney isn’t concerned about the very poor. If you want him to be concerned, then the goal is to turn the poor into a viable voting bloc. Of course, the Republican Party has done everything it can to ensure that this does not happen. From the assassination of ACORN to the disfranchisement of poor voters throughout the country, the Republican Party has demonstrated its commitment against democracy in favor of an autocratic stacked deck. At the same time, the juridical nightmare Citizens United has entrenched a monolith of millionaire manipulation into the democratic process that makes both parties dependent upon the wealthy and encourages both parties to turn their backs on the poor. That the Democrats have, for the most part, done nothing to confront conservatives on these issues only demonstrates that they have not woken up to the powerful potential of being a party for the people.
But, at the very least, we caught a glimpse of the truth from Romney’s robotic mouth.