Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Friends in high places

Our guess is that neither Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney nor any of the other candidates are going to invite average Americans over for dinner—fundraisers aside.

Yet, candidates want us to perceive that they care deeply about us, our hopes and dreams. They are good at the message that they would like to be not only our president, but also our friend.

However, it's a weird friendship they offer. From Romney to Jon Huntsman to Newt Gingrich, the Republican candidates are consistent in proposing significant cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and health insurance reform. These wannabe friends of ordinary Americans blithely propose to take away benefits from everyone, including the elderly and our children.

The candidates are not particularly heartless. It's just that most of them don't really know middle-class Americans. Personally, they don't need help for their parents and children. They don't know people well who are fearful of running out of unemployment benefits or of losing their houses in foreclosure.

They don't know anyone who does know anyone like this. That's why at the same time they call for benefit reductions for the middle class, they can, completely sincerely, call for tax reductions for the rich because that's who their friends are.

Middle-class Americans don't need friends who are anything but friendly when it comes to meeting fundamental needs. Candidates, no matter the party, are not our friends nor do we expect them to be. Ordinary Americans need candidates who'll work to preserve the middle class, and provide opportunities for all rather than just the richest of the rich.

If we need a friend, we'll get a dog.

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