Mitt Romney has absolutely no problem with billionaires buying elections. In fact, had it not been for billionaires’ buying elections, he would not be the Republican nominee for president.
But Romney has a big, big problem with working people’s participating in the political process. Especially teachers.
America’s primary proponent of big money in politics now says that he wants to silence K-12 teachers who pool their resources in order to defend public education for kids whose parents might not be wealthy enough to pay the $39,000 a year it costs to send them to the elite Cranbrook Schools attended by young Willard Mitt.
“We simply can’t have a setting where the teachers unions are able to contribute tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians and then those politicians, when elected, stand across from them at the bargaining table, supposedly to represent the interest of the kids. I think it’s a mistake,” the Republican nominee for president of 53 percent of the United States said during an appearance Tuesday with NBC’s Education Nation. “I think we’ve got to get the money out of the teachers unions going into campaigns. It’s the wrong way for us to go.”
So rich in irony, in fact, that it could be the most hypocritical statement uttered by a candidate who has had no trouble scaling the heights of hypocrisy.
If Romney wanted to get money out of politics altogether and replace the current crisis with a system where election campaigns were publicly funded, his comments might be taken seriously. But that’s not the case. Romney just wants “reforms” that silence individuals and organizations that do not share his antipathy for public education.
Romney is troubled that unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association voice political opinions. But he is not troubled by Bain capitalists’ pooling their resources in Super PACs and buying election results.
Indeed, if it had not been for massive spending by the lavishly funded Romney Super PAC “Restore Our Future” on Republican primary season attack ads—which poured tens of millions of dollars into the nasty work of destroying more popular rivals for the nomination.
When he was facing a withering assault by “Restore Our Future” in Iowa, Gingrich said Romney would “buy the election if he could.”
Romney could. And he did.
Never in the history of American presidential elections has so weak and dysfunctional a candidate as Romney been able to hold his own as a presidential contender solely because of the money donated by very wealthy individuals and corporations to the agencies that seek to elect him.
Yet he now attacks teachers who are merely seeking to assure that—in the face of frequently ridiculous and consistently ill-informed media coverage, brutal attacks by so-called “think tanks” and neglect even by Democratic politicians—the voices of supporters of public education are heard when voters are considering the future of public education.
Romney is the most consistently and aggressively anti-union candidate ever to be nominated for the presidency by a major American political party. His disdain for organized labor has been consistently and aggressively stated. He’s an enthusiastic backer of moves to bust public sector unions, he supports so-called “right-to-work” laws as a tool states can use to bust private-sector unions and he wants to do away with guarantees that workers on construction projects are fairly compensated and able to negotiate to keep job sites safe. The Republican platform on which Romney and Paul Ryan are running goes so far as to call for the “enactment of a National Right-to-Work law,” which would effectively undo more the seventy-five years of labor laws in this country.
That’s extremism in the defense not of liberty but of plutocracy. But there are points where Romney goes beyond extremism.
When it comes to the role of teacher unions, the Republican nominee’s royalist tendencies come to the fore. Unable to recognize the absolute absurdity of a nominee who would not be a nominee were it not for the support he has received from billionaires and millionaires seeking to prevent kindergarten teachers from pooling small donations to defend their schools, his message is the modern-day equivalent of the monarch of old sneering at the rabble and ordering his minions, Silence them!
Some Republicans do support unions… when a labor lockout gets in the way of their football game, that is. Check out Dave Zirin’s take on Scott Walker and the NFL.