Recently, at a rally in Las Vegas, Romney was quoted as saying:
I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town. And he said ‘You know I’d like to change the Constitution, I’m not sure I can do it,’ he said. ‘I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.’
You see then he or she would understand that the policies they’re putting in place have to encourage small business, make it easier for business to grow.
I understand that his whole campaign is centered around the fact that because he has a business background he is not only qualified, but more qualified, to be President. But, you would think the candidate of a party that idolizes an actor would have realized that this was not the smartest thing to say.
This was a silly comment for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that history has proven that a background in business, if anything, has a negative correlation with a successful presidency. But also because this comment is based off of one person that believes business should be a prerequisite for Presidency. And, sure, maybe that shows that some people would prefer to have a businessman as President. They want someone in office who understands business because they want policies to be made in their favor. Fine. But, I’m sure a lot of professionals would say the same thing. A farmer would most likely prefer someone with an agricultural background. A lawyer, someone with a legal background. A doctor, someone with a medical background. If you’re homeless, it would be nice to have a President who has also been homeless at some point. And as a social entrepreneur, I would really love a President who understands that you can make a profit and give back at the same time. That there is a holistic way of looking at business that factors society and the environment into the equation. Does that mean that all of these should be prerequisites in order to be President? Of course not. A constitutional amendment is just ludicrous.
The fact that one person thinks this way does not concern me. It is naive. But most of the country is naive when it comes to certain aspects of politics. You can’t expect everyone to understand or even care about all aspects of government. Most people care about the things that affect them directly.
But the fact that someone who could be our next President references this idea as one of the big reasons why he should be President does concern me.
I want a President who knows about more than business. Because in order to be President, you have to know the law. You have to know how government works. You have to know economics. And by economics I mean macroeconomics, not finance. You have to know something about international relations and foreign policy. Knowledge of international development would be helpful. What about healthcare and education? Advisors can fill in the knowledge gaps for all of these areas. But most importantly you have to know your fellow men and women. Not just a section of the population. You have to be able to understand, connect with, and have empathy for every single American. Advisors can’t help you with that.
Romney has shown time and time again that he can’t seem to connect with every single American. He can connect with business men and women like the owner of two restaurants. He can connect with the wealthy. He can connect with those who make it their life goal to make as much money as possible. But he can’t connect with the people who don’t care that much about wealth. He can’t connect with people who aren’t cutthroat competitive, not to be confused with lazy. He can’t connect with people who put other aspects of life ahead of making money. The people who would rather eat dinner every single night with their family than slave away at the office. The people who work three jobs, not because they are greedy but because they are doing everything they can so that their children can get a better education and have access to better opportunities. The people who have no other choice because they are part of a system that is designed to keep them at the bottom. Our President needs to be able to connect with the bottom 1% as much as the top 1%.
Romney truly believes that business and money make the world go round. He can’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that success isn’t always defined by the number in your back account. And that is what scares me most about the possibility of Romney being our next President.