Wait a second. Just gotta…oof. Okay. Now that I’m up on my soapbox, let’s get started.
Unless you were REALLY into the beach volleyball on Saturday, you probably noticed that Mittington Romney III* picked a running mate. He didn’t go with a lady or a minority, or lady minority like badass-despite-her-party-affiliation South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
Nope, he decided to burn his bridges, throw the baby out with the bathwater, pretend he never helped legislate affordable healthcare for Massachusetts, and discard all pretense of pretending he cares about the middle class. He chose Paul Ryan.
Look, I get it. Paul Ryan is young (Mitt is 65, Mr Two First Names is 42), attractive, and well spoken. He’s not purely negative, like some other House Republicans I could name (cough cough John Boehner). At least he proposes alternatives to things he doesn’t like. But just because you have ideas doesn’t mean that they’re good.
You’re going to hear it from everyone in the next few days, so I’ll keep it brief here. But Ryan’s budget plan will likely cause 95% of people to to pay the same or more in taxes. 5% (the wealthiest, surprise!) will pay less. Because I don’t want to assume that he’s part of vast greedy conspiracy of money and power, I’m going to assume that he’s just never met a poor person. I’m going to assume that he truly believes it’s possible for every single person to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. He doesn’t believe in the poverty cycle or institutionalized racism. He believes that we can all be millionaires, if we would only work hard enough. Except, just like in his budget, the math doesn’t quite work out.
That’s a problem that goes beyond Paul Ryan. Thinking like that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society, and has been for generations. I’m talking about FOX News and other conservative ilk, but I’m also talking about our favorite liberals – by now, you’ve probably seen that clip from Aaron Sorkin’s new show Newsroom where Jeff Daniels calls us “the worst generation”. There’s this pervasive idea that it’s pure laziness that’s causing a recession, as if we’re moving back in with our parents or hiding in grad school haven because we don’t want to go out there and get a job.
I mean, because we faked the LIBOR rates and we institutionalized corporate tax breaks and outsourced American labor to make more money to invest in questionable bonds, because we don’t want jobs. We just want to lie around in the suburbs and tweet all day.
It’s just too easy to assume that the reason unemployment is so high is because the unemployed are lazy. It’s psychological justification. That’s what allows Paul Ryan to propose budget cuts that would harm the majority of American citizens and still be able to sleep at night. Taking away support means that people will work harder to make the extra money they need to pay for medication and food.
I know, I know. Your friend Steve just smokes weed all day and lives off his trust fund. That guy in your neighborhood uses his food stamps on beer and cigarettes. There are people who really don’t want to do a damn thing, I know that. But I also believe that a lot of us are tossing and turning at night because we can’t pay our bills. A lot of us have jobs, or are overqualified with no prospects in sight. Things are getting better, but it’s happening slowly. But maybe we’ve never had money. Maybe we couldn’t go to college or maybe we never got to work for our Dad’s big company. So maybe, just maybe, the deck was stacked against us from the start.
When you’re born into a family that can financially support you, that can give you a good education and feed you properly, it’s probably just a little easier to get yourself a good job, or say, a seat in the House of Representative. To believe otherwise is naive and just a little ignorant.
A good country doesn’t blame its citizens. A good country takes care of them.
Paul Ryan is a by the book conservative. He thinks life begins at conception. He voted yes on bills banning gay adoption, making the Patriot Act permanent, shortening the waiting period for guns from 3 days to 1, and banning the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He’s voted no on bills enforcing laws against anti-gay hate crimes, granting $84 million in grants for black and hispanic colleges, incentivizing renewable energy, and expanding the Children’s Health Insurance program. It’s comically easy to hate him. We’re going to hear a lot about his voting record in the next couple of months, depend on it, and we can think whatever we want about it. But let’s keep in mind what Paul Ryan thinks about us. . He thinks we can’t get jobs because we’re not trying. He thinks that we, the American people, are taking advantage of the state and corporations to enrich ourselves, not the other way around. He doesn’t think we’re good enough.
Okay, let me just put another soapbox up here so I can climb up a little higher. Here it goes: Tell him he’s not good enough. Tell him and Mittens Romneyworth, Jr.** that it’s not good enough to talk about the middle class like we’re not here. Tell them it’s not good enough to blame poor people for being born into situations that men like them and their fathers created. Tell them that it’s not even in the same universe as good to pretend for even a second that they understand what a majority of us do in our day to day lives just to get by. Write letters if you want, talk about it, read the news, tweet questions into the debates, and vote in November. Prove these motherfuckers wrong and show them what we’re made of.
*This is not Willard Mitt Romney’s real name.
** Neither is this.