Last Saturday, during ABC's televised Republican debate in Iowa, Mitt Romeny challenged Texas Governor Rick Perry to a pricey bet. He offered a $10,000 wager concerning a disagreement over whether Romney had ever supported a federal individual mandate for health insurance similar to the one included in the Massachusetts plan he backed. With this bet, Romney gave the voting public another sign that the multimillionaire was out of touch with America's struggling middle class.
If you can make a $10,000 bet, you are most likely part of the 1%. If you make a $10,000 bet in front of millions of Americans while running for president, you must be out of touch with reality and not realize that 99% is more than 1% on election night.
If Americans end up voting for the guy who made this $10,000 bet, even if merely to prove a point, we would deserve who and what we get. This wager paints a picture of a candidate out of touch with many of the problems Americans face today. Increasing income inequality is one of the hottest political footballs for 2012 and Romney seemed to throw an interception with this one. Americans will not trust their middle class pensions, college funds, and retirement accounts to a politician who makes casual $10,000 bets on national television.
I take no issue with a little friendly wagering. In fact, I think that making a few friendly wagers with your buddies on football games can take your mind off the pile of bills, the mounting credit card debt, and your dwindling bank account. However, for a presidential candidate to make a wager with another presidential candidate while millions of Americans are losing their jobs, homes, pensions, and their health care seems just a bit out of touch. Even if presidential candidates are wealthy, and many of them are, they still need to act as if they empathize with the 99%.
When Romney challenged Perry on a dispute over his healthcare record and where he stood on the individual mandate, it set a precedent for presidential debates. Candidates can act like mischevious billionaires at a country club and remain in the race for the White House. Yes, the bar is now mighty low. It also further lent credence to the notion that these Republican presidential debates were not very presidential and that the exclusive Republicans candidates club was even more exclusive than originally thought.
If you are a Democrat, you must be jumping for joy every time a Republican candidate opens his mouth. If you are a Republican, you are mostly likely cringing every time a Republican candidate has a microphone in front of his or her face. According to the Gallup Daily, Obama's approval rating currently stands at 41%. With the Republican field lacking any credible candidates, the president's rating could fall even further below the 50/50 line, and he will still win another four years of room and board at the White House.
At least Newt Gingrich has sense enough not to bet large sums of money with his fellow rich Republican candidates on television while millions of Americans struggle to find enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Hey Romney, let‘s wager $10 - only $10 because I’m part of the 99% and $10,000 would wipe out my measly retirement account. What’s the bet, you ask? I’ll bet dollars to donuts and a crumpled 10 that you won’t be moving into the White House next year.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore