Photo credit: Austen Hufford/ Daily Michigan
Now that Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, the Democrats are seeking to damage Romney by portraying him as someone who is “out of touch” with the concerns and difficulties of the middle-class and minorities. Democrats are making the spurious argument that due to Romney’s wealth, he doesn’t understand the struggles of the “common man/woman.” Allow me to provide a few reasons why Romney is not out of touch with everyday Americans and will easily overcome this line of attack.
1) Romney’s Company was voted “Best Employer” in the Nation this Year – Romney founded a company called Bain Capital which was awarded the honor of “BEST EMPLOYER IN THE NATION” according to employee surveys done by a large and reputable website called Glassdoor. Bain Capital even beat other popular companies such as FaceBook and Google. Romney’s company has been in the top 4 every year Glassdoor has run the survey. If Romney can’t relate to the middle class or the average American, why is the company he founded doing so well with its employees who are mostly middle class? Romney was instrumental in establishing the culture within the company that so many of his employees enjoy. Romney’s company provides a powerful example of how “in touch” he is with the average American.
2) Romney Understands the Discrimination and Bigotry Often Felt by Minorities – As a member of a religious minority, Romney has experienced first hand discrimination and bigotry. Due to Romney’s Mormon faith, Romney understands quite acutely the injustices and pain caused by judgements against him simply because of his religion. While I don’t pretend to know whether Romney’s membership in a religious minority will help or hurt him in the election, it is just plain wrong for Democrats to say that Romney doesn’t understand the bigotry and discrimination of minorities.
3) Romney’s Health Care Law in Massachusetts – President Obama’s biggest domestic achievement has been the passage of Obamacare. But if Obamacare represents how “in touch” Obama is with average Americans, then how can Obama claim that Romney is “out of touch” when Obama got his inspiration for Obamacare from Gov. Romney’s health care law in Massachusetts? I cannot count how many Obama surrogates, including Obama himself, have tried to damage Romney’s reputation among conservatives by “thanking” him for the model they used to create Obamacare. So, to the extent that Obamacare represents the type of policy that exemplifies Obama’s connection with average Americans, Romney should easily gain the upper hand.
4) Romney’s volunteer work as lay minister for his church in Boston – During his time as a lay minister for his church, which totals over 20 years of service, Romney spent much of his time meeting with and counseling members of the congregation who were struggling in one way or another. Recently, an article from the LA Times reviewed Romney’s church service over the years and said:
“Romney’s friends and family say his instincts are rooted in his Mormon faith and sharpened over his years as a lay leader in the church. For years, Romney’s church work amounted to a half-time job, as he counseled members of his congregation who were dealing with marital problems, substance abuse and financial difficulties related to lost jobs or health issues.
Often Romney would sit down with a pad and help a couple scratch out their budget — urging them to differentiate between wants and needs. In a privileged life, those experiences had a lasting effect.
“It allowed him to see so many different people and so many different problems that people are facing — to really have empathy for people who are struggling, and to recognize that almost everybody in every walk of life has one sort or another of struggle,” his son Josh said in an interview. “There are so many people out there in need of help or support — he learned a lot of that through those experiences.”
Romney listened and counseled with those members of the congregation for over two decades as they dealt with the typical struggles of the average American. That kind of extensive volunteer work sets Romney apart as a man who does indeed understand the average American
5) Romney’s wife with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – Nothing is more trying to a person’s life than to have a spouse or loved one diagnosed with a debilitating and incurable disease. Romney’s wife of over 40 years has MS and has been treated for breast cancer. Both Mitt and Anne have said publicly many times that one of the most difficult times in their lives was when Anne was diagnosed with MS. For a time, Mrs. Romney was unable to move about the house or even get out of bed due to her MS. Many Americans and their families who are also struggling with intractable health problems would find a very sympathetic ear from Mitt Romney.
6) Romney’s handling of victims from Hurricane Katrina – The LA Times discusses a powerful example of Romney’s compassion that occured during Romney’s time as Governor of Massachusetts:
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, who heads a faith-based gang intervention group in Roxbury, Mass., and spoke frequently to Romney during his governorship, saw two facets of the man — the executive and the spiritual counselor — come together after Hurricane Katrina when the Massachusetts Legislature provided shelter on Cape Cod for evacuees. Romney wanted members of the black clergy to attend to the arrivals — because he said some would rather talk to pastors than mental health professionals — and asked Brown to lead the effort.
Romney arrived a few days later, telling Brown he wanted to hear the stories directly from the victims, many of whom were from New Orleans’ hard-hit Lower 9th Ward.
“He wanted to make sure that their needs were being met,” Brown said. “He brought 50 state agencies down there, and everybody’s needs were attended to. I’m talking about people who left their houses in such a rush that they forgot their teeth. He had dentists down there to get them their dentures.… He was on it.”
But Brown was most surprised watching Romney interact with victims — praying with them, sitting with them on park benches asking about their families, scooping up children and asking for hugs.
“He was pastoral,” Brown said. “He was that person with those people.”
Romney’s connection with average Americans was exemplified by his compassion to the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.
In Conclusion, What about JFK? With all the focus Democrats place on Romney’s wealth, what is left out is that JFK, one of the Democrats most beloved presidents, was just as wealthy as Romney, if not more so. In fact, JFK came from one of the richest families in America and then married a woman who was an oil heiress who also had great wealth of her own. Despite JFK’s wealth, JFK was still able to connect with minorities by famously calling federal marshals to allow Blacks to attend the University of Alabama in 1962. Even though JFK was assassinated in 1963, his presidency was instrumental in developing and passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
One very important difference between Romney and JFK, however, is that almost all of JFK’s income and property came from a trust fund created by his rich father and then shared with other family members. Romney, on the other hand, created his wealth for himself through hard work by founding a successful company. Romney did not inherit his fortune from his father.