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2012 Election

The Pharisee

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I’ve been following a number of conversations in Facebook discussing the virtues of Mitt Romney. Many of my Democratic and Independent friends repeatedly make the point that they disagree with Mr. Romney’s policies, but that he seems to be a man of good character. These conversations are typically initiated by Republican declarations which are themselves rather banal, like the following one from Jeb Bush:

Bush said he’s ‘a great example for the Romney family’ and said that those family ideals are what is needed in the White House.

‘Family matters a lot for all of us, and a guy can’t be that bad when he’s got a beautiful wife, great kids, he loves his family more than anybody could ever describe,’ Bush said. ‘That is what we need in the White House. We need a good family person and that’s what Mitt Romney is.’”[1]

On the surface, this is an utterly meaningless comment. I think everyone in America knows that Mr. Romney isn’t beating his wife, nor prostituting his children. And the Romney’s are certainly charismatic – all apple pie and white picket fences. I also think it rather sad that Mr. Bush considers “can’t be that bad” as high praise for his party’s candidate.

Former Governor Bush is also implying that the current occupant of the White House is the opposite: doesn’t have a beautiful wife, great kids or loves his family. Although this is patently ridiculous on every count – Mr. Obama very clear adores his wife and dotes on his children – it is nevertheless perfectly in sync with the GOP mantra. Only Republicans have good families, only Republicans are virtuous.

Mr. Romney certainly agrees with this sentiment. While Governor of Massachusetts, he vehemently opposed same sex unions in testimony before the state Senate´s Judiciary Committee; he fired two state employees after they had married their same sex partners, and he dissolved the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth after its work didn’t accord with his own beliefs.[2]

When a homosexual couple met with the Governor to plead for his support to protect their families, the loving Mr. Romney declared, “I didn’t know you had families.” He continued by informing his constituents, “”I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years?” [3]

Mr. Romney has a track record of ignoring the rights of his constituents. When the former Governor proclaims during a fundraiser for wealthy donors that he doesn’t consider it his job to worry about 47% of the population[4], this is not hyperbole. He really means it; he has demonstrated it clearly during his tenure in the Bay State. If you’re not one of “his people”, you clearly have no rights or interests that his Administration need respect.

The Other Guys

This is the usual hypocrisy of Republican orthodoxy. Republicans make no effort to hide the fact that they are against same-sex marriage on religious grounds. There is no secular reason why two consenting adults shouldn’t be able to contract a civil union (which is a contract on property and inheritance rights as far as the state is concerned). Yet by basing their arguments on religious grounds, the Republicans run afoul of the First Amendment.

Well, that doesn’t matter. The First Amendment only applies to Republicans.

In Mr. Romney’s world, the person who pays no income tax because they fall below the poverty line is reprehensible. How about the company that pays no corporate tax because they have politicians in their pockets to protect their loopholes in the tax code? The person that requires government assistance because they lost their job is condemned, but the CEO who sent that job overseas is lauded as a job creator (for China perhaps). The person who requires Medicaid because of a chronic medical condition needs to be weaned off of their disgusting dependency on the government dole, but the insurance company that denied them coverage is just following market practices.

In Mitt Romney’s world, it is always the other guy’s fault – specifically the little guy. The CEO is a good man because he has a beautiful wife. The lobbyist is a good man because he has great kids. The insurer is a good man because he loves his family. What about the unemployed, the infirm, the poor? “I didn’t know they had families.”

The Pharisee

After due consideration, I don’t think Mr. Romney is a particularly good man. I don’t doubt he is a good husband and father. So are many mobsters.

I think Mr. Romney and the Republicans are Pharisees. Let me quote Matthew (yes, Democrats can quote Scripture too – conservatives, don’t get riled).

4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”[5]

These righteous men, who love the board room and the praise of their countrymen, will not lift a finger to comfort the sick man, or give a crust of bread to the poor man (lest it create an enervating dependency). How many widows’ houses have been devoured during these four years of crisis while the banker grows sleek and fat, and in turn fattens the coffers of his SuperPac? But they do love to be seen in the front pews of their churches on Sunday.

 The virtue of Mr. Romney is the virtue of the clever lawyer, who observes the letter of the law, but ignores the spirit of it. When Mr. Romney writes off the 47%, he forgets the second greatest commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself. Didn’t our Lord come specifically to minister to the weak, the sick, the lame, the unclean?  I don’t remember the line of scripture where Jesus tells his disciples “I come for the 53%, the others can bugger off.”

Conservatives will undoubtedly counter by asking “what about Obama?” What about him? Mr. Obama promised to be President for all Americans, for those who voted for him and for those who didn’t. Mr. Obama doesn’t claim to be holier than thou. And Mr. Obama has a beautiful wife, great kids and loves his family. I guess we already have one of those guys in the White House, and I hope America keeps him there.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with the words of Sarah Zacarias[6]. She’s a courageous woman and mother from Wyoming, and one of Mr. Romney’s 47%. She wrote the former governor a letter after hearing his disparaging remarks and I dare say she is far more eloquent than I:

An Open Letter To Candidate Romney

Dear Mitt Romney:

I saw your video.

I saw you speaking candidly and off the cuff about me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that you didn’t mention me by name or anything, but we both know you were talking about me.

When you were talking about 47% of the population that is never going to vote for you because we are “dependent victims” who lazily live on government programs like food stamps, I can’t help but take personal offense. In fact, once you decided to lump in anybody who is never going to vote for you, you weren’t just talking about me, but many people I love, and about 90% of the people I know.

My children eat because of food stamps, Mr. Romney. Now, sir, I want you to picture a Wyoming cowgirl: a mother, a fighter, a righteous, determined, God-loving woman. A Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear Mamma that would make Sarah Palin’s makeup-wearing pit bull shudder. Picture me staring you in the eyes as I ask you, “What business have you got talking about me and mine like that?”

I am watching you run your Richie Rich mouth on TV right now, with your little flag lapel pin over your heart. You brag that you will bring “12 million new jobs and rising take home pay.” Quite frankly, I have no reason to believe you or your failures in arithmetic. Even if you did manage such a feat, I’d point to the 4.5 million job head start you had thanks to President Obama saving the nation from the failed GOP policies which you use as a platform, and which nearly caused a second Great Depression.

You said that you think that 47% of Americans “think they are victims” and you even said it wasn’t your job to worry about us.

First, I must argue with you. I am not a victim. I have been beaten. I have been bullied. I have been raped. I have been addicted. I have been alone. I have been poor. I have been homeless. I have been sick and broken. I have chosen — each and every single time — to stand up and pull myself and my family out of those circumstances. I beat every one of them without any riches to aid me. I did that without any inheritance, any gifted stocks or bonds, any loans, any rich family, or any elevators for my cars. I did it because I am not a victim, I am an American. I am the Mom-in-Chief of my house and nothing less than the very best that I can provide will do. I am the product of women who forded rivers to fetch the mail after working a hard day’s labor on the Laramie high plains. I am a force to be reckoned with.

If you don’t believe me, you could ask the doctor who has to take fluid from my spine on a regular basis to preserve my ability to see, due to a rare disease. If you don’t believe me, you can ask our Ambassador to China Gary Locke, who personally invited me to a bill signing when I helped Washington State legislate protection for children in schools against bullying by sharing my own experiences. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my children who have seen me struggle but always, always provide for them. Any one of these people will tell you, that this American is not a victim.

You call me entitled. I devote every day of my life to bettering the planet I live on, with no hope of profit. I am sorry, sir, but you calling me entitled is like the pot calling the dove black. That isn’t going to work. I challenge you to stand at my side and let the American public judge which of us is entitled. I spend every dime of my and my husband’s earned income as quickly as it comes in, right here in my town. Every dime I earn and spend stays in America. I am the ultimate Job Creator. Who are you to challenge me?

You call me entitled. Every year on April 15th, I am certain that I have shown every cent that went through my pocket honestly. I dream of a day when I am well enough off to pay taxes. I fantasize of the flourish with which I will write my first check to the IRS. I would give any earthly belongings I have to be self-sufficient enough to be able to pay it forward to the society that I love.

No, you cannot challenge me, Mitt Romney. I challenge you: where are your tax returns?

I fought, I graduated at the top of my class in college, and I pursued graduate studies. I took loans against myself, believing that this would pay off, but then, in 2009, something happened.

No, it wasn’t Barack Obama’s inauguration; it was a sudden injury to my spine that ended up revealing not one but two severe spinal diseases. Since then I have been unable to finish my studies or to work. I’d like to know, Mr. Romney: how many months of physical therapy, how many of my surgeries, how many of my scars must I share to prove my devotion to wanting to be better? How many of my efforts must I submit before you’ll see me, an American citizen, as worthy of your worry? When you tell me to take responsibility for myself, I ask you: what after that?

This evening, when you justified your awful statements in that video, you said that you had said what you did because you were reassuring your donators that you could win this election. I’m sorry that you have to pander to your base like that. You seem to have sold out your soul. You have forgotten “the eye of the needle” with that wealth you’ve got. You’ve left behind Matthew 24:50. I hate to be the one to tell ya buddy, but you are not the promised one. The promised one understands that the 47% you are talking about are more than low wage workers and elderly people who worked their whole lives and paid into the system, they are the 100% that your God is concerned with when he said “Love thy neighbor.” You may pay a tithe with your wallet, but it’s obvious you’ve neglected to tithe your heart.

My husband left for work at 7 AM. It is now 9 PM and he won’t be home again for two more hours from his second job today. I spent yesterday at the emergency room. I have been waiting for two years for Social Security. I do not understand. How much more do we have to work to show you that your call for jobs isn’t enough? You must also be concerned for the whole nation, and whether we eat, and whether we have medicine. You must care if a hardworking, devoted family like mine is unable to survive after investing their best efforts. How many jobs do you expect every American to take? Three? Four?

You simply must stop and consider those you dismiss as beneath you or you cannot be our leader. It is an unwritten but widely understood rule of the presidency. I don’t know what they taught you when you were out there scalping businesses hard-won on the backs of people like that 47% you so rudely kick around, but in the real world, we care when Americans suffer. We care when you forget the young military men and women who serve our nation by sacrificing their lives. We care when Americans go hungry. We care when Americans jobs are sent overseas and rich men hide societal resources in offshore accounts. We care that we are being ripped off and even if you find profit and power in our suffering, we still exist, we still care, and we will still stand up.

See? You called me a victim, you called me entitled, you called me a lot of other things in that video, but on every count you are wrong. Just by writing you this letter, I’ve proven I am not your victim. Just by living my life of hard and dutiful effort I have proven that I am not entitled. In fact, I consider it a duty as a citizen of this Great United States to shout loudly and proudly: “Mitt Romney is not and never will be my President!”

I warn you Mr. Romney, the one thing that I have not, and will not ever lose, is my voice. I will sound it each and every one of these 50 days until Barack Obama is re-elected, we will vote with Compassion, and Wisdom, and Empathy…and you, sir, can keep your spite and your hate and your rhetoric and see your way out.

Sincerely,

Sarah Zacharias, a.k.a. The Bucking Jenny”



Sources and Notes:

 [1] Raedle, Joe, “Paul Ryan Visits Miami to Woo Cuban-American Voters,” abcNews, 22 September 2012
[2] Brydum, Sunnivie, “Gov. Romney Didn’t Know Gay People Had Families,” Advocate, 12 September 2012
[3] Ibid
[4] Corn, David, “Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters,” Mother Jones, 17 September 2012
[5] The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 23, verses 4 to 28, The King James Bible, Cambridge Standard Edition
[6] Reprinted from the “Amazing Open Letter to Romney”, Daily Kos, 20 September 2012. The author has permitted the reproduction of the letter if done in full.

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“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.“

John Adams

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