The Few & The 47 Percent
Romney’s callus admission “my job is not to worry about those people”, referring the 47 percent of government dependent victims who don’t pay income taxes echoes the tone of the Few at another series of private meetings held nearly 230 years ago.
During the Consitutional Convention 73 delegates selected by their state governments convened in Philadelphia. It was May 1787 when this well educated group of landholders, attorneys, plantation owners, merchants and securities speculators first gathered to draft the principles that would found a nation. That vision incarnated in the U.S. Constitution and garnished by lofty ideals was in actuality “constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” James Madison reasoned before his fellow delegates that a popular government could become the vehicle for the landless masses to appropriate the property of the rich. This would lead to an agrarian revolution threatening the long term commercial and political interests of the nation.
Hoping to establish a government less susceptible to the “turbulent and changing” masses, the Few delegates steered the convention to adopt a system more formidable against populist forces. This political force, the Few contended, was comprised of people who “seldom judge or determine right.”Alexander Hamilton was among the Few who lobbied for the protection of the venal interests of the propertied classes. Rebuking Jefferson’s appeal to the people and his faith in their “good sense…and the honesty of their leaders”, Hamilton ripped the 18th century equivalent to Romeny’s 47 percent gaffe, “Your people sir, is a beast”. Yet a major difference exists between these two contemptuous remarks about the majority of America (yesterday’s farmers and today’s lower income earners), the existence of electronic recording devices and the instantaneous worldwide spread of news, even if it comes from behind closed doors.
Romney’s private fundraiser in Boca Raton last month draws light on the shadow cast across society by elitists. The utter disregard and contempt with which elitists like Romney and his well-heeled supporters regard the masses is glaring. “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives”, Romney continued before the Few referring to Hamilton’s distrustful and Madison’s slothful people.
At the secret meeting in Boca Raton there was no room for the Many. No Jeffersons were present. In fact the Many are excluded from such meetings by design. Admittance is too costly for this beastly social body. If you can’t afford your plate your shoulders aren’t worthy of being brushed to begin with. Yet attendance at such events, the breakfasts, luncheons and dinners where the money-access-power meetings unfold is where your voice is heard and your will is absorbed into the political agenda of the ruling elites. Whether you were vying for laws that would enhance the security of your property or protect your rights to own those tending your fields; whether you are pushing for approval of constructing a pipeline or having policies written to guarentee your tax break, a closed meeting cordoned off from the Many is required to elect representatives who run counter to the public interest. Insulating decision making in this fashion allows people like Romney to be considered for office let alone get elected by the 5 to 10 percent of the population that is “thoughtful” enough to vote against “the other, the mass of the people”. Capturing all the brazen statements and spiteful remarks in the world won’t change this. But recognizing that good sense and honest leadership may seems a starting point for a conversation open to the public.