One might think that a Republican presidential candidate who thinks “my job is not to worry” about half the population of his nation would be dropped like a stone by his party. Similarly, if a British Education Secretary actively engaged in reducing the life chances of children and young people, the ensuing public outrage would be deafening. Mitt Romney is still in the race for the Whitehouse with opinion polls apparently unaffected. Michael Gove has not resigned, has not been sacked, continues to enjoy oxygen and has not been spotted swinging from a lamp post. Strange days have found us.
Mitt Romney shared his thoughts with a small, private gathering of very wealthy Republican donors. Secretly filmed, he said:
“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what, all right? There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
“They will vote for this President no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax…My job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Mitt is a very wealthy man and estimated to have a net worth of between 190 and 250million US dollars made in hedge fund management, venture capitalism and asset stripping in aggressive take-overs. We may never know the reality of his fortune as the money is safely off-shore and Mr Romney has consistently managed to avoid publicly declaring his tax arrangements. It is not clear if the Republican candidate regards himself as part of the 47 per cent of American voters who do not pay tax but clarified his bizarre policy to split the Union by targeting the five per cent regarded as swing voters. The US electoral system is such that in a nation of 300 million, the most powerful person on the planet is chosen by a handful of key marginal wards in swing states. Who could forget the election of George W Bush in 2000 when the hanging chads in the swing state of Florida decided the outcome in favour of the brother of Florida Senator Jeb Bush?
Romney, like George Dubya, is a God-fearing man and Mitt is particularly devout. In the 1960`s being a Mormon missionary, he took his sacred duty to France and in doing so was exempted from the Vietnam War draft. When asked about this later, he said that France was a dangerous place for an American in 1968. Not quite as dangerous as the Mekong Delta during the Tet Offensive though. As a man of God, his views on the rights of a woman be in control of her own body are unequivocally clear. As a young missionary for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, abortion was a sin against all that is holy. Later, as a venture capitalist, when he “invested” in a medical waste company called Stericycle that made him millions of dollars, abortion was okay with him. The company, with a dreadful safety record, disposed of aborted foetuses. Now, appealing to the trailer park vote, he believes that abortion is only acceptable in cases of rape, incest or the mental health of the potential mother. Strange days have tracked us down.
If Mitt Romney is a man of God, then Michael Gove must be a saint. After writing the foreword to a new printing of the King James Bible intended to take pride of place in every school, the Secretary of State for Education has and is performing miracles. His most divine act of wonder has been to transmogrify a successful albeit flawed state education system into a church of imposed failure for all except the privileged and wealthy. His Beatification was assured when he halted the shameful waste of money being squandered on rebuilding schools that were falling down and by rushing through legislation to allow the privatisation of education. He branded teachers, parents and children as failures and after fiddling his expenses, fiddled with the National Curriculum to ensure that Primary Schools taught maths by memorising times tables, history by memorising dates and literacy by dictation. As it became apparent that his Academies programme was and is an unmitigated failure, he changed the qualifying criteria for Academy status on an almost monthly basis. When it became clear that too many working class oiks were reaching his meaningless and inflated GCSE targets, he allowed the pass mark to be raised thereby quashing the aspiration and ambition of thousands of young people.
Now, his latest madness, the English Baccalaureate has confirmed his Canonization as Saint Michael the Idiot. Claiming that GCSE`s are a very bad thing because they give the undeserving poor an opportunity of a job or, God forbid, a chance at tertiary education, St Michael has cast them out. Instead, eleven years of study will be judged on a single, three hour examination, just like he had to do. The working class must learn to know their place and that place is not university. Transubstantiation is a very big word; can you spell children?
When Mitt Romney banished the 47 per cent to the wilderness, rather than chastise the high priest, Republicans praised their lord with Murdoch owned Fox News screaming for more. When Michael Gove, a former Murdoch journalist, announced his latest heresy in the House of Commons, he remained unmolested and was able to leave the chamber without being torn to pieces. Sat behind him on the front bench was a certain David Laws, a proven embezzler, liar and cheat. Nothing unusual there given the current coalition cabinet. Instead of being in prison, Laws is a minister at the Department of Education. Strange days have found us.
If Romney is victorious in November, the US will become the most powerful, most heavily armed and most dangerous rogue state on the planet. With Cameron and Gove as trusted allies in the fight to fill their own pockets, the wealth takers will crack down even harder on the wealth makers and those that are expendable due to being unable to produce profit for the very, very few. Greed will finally completely replace compassion and the extremist anarchic doctrine of loving your fellow human beings. Strange days indeed.
At the height of the Cold War and with Vietnam raging, the Doors recorded this: