by Patton Oswalt
I’m voting for Obama because I love money, but I’m not money’s bitch.Romney is money’s bitch. He’s ambition’s bitch. He’s success’s bitch and he’s victory’s bitch. And, like those particular sort of pampered dogs you see in the laps of the very rich, he yaps and snaps and snarls at the everyday mutt. He’s frightened and confused by a dog who’s happy to treasure the sunshine and play with the other dogs and eat enough food to fill its belly and lap enough water to slake its thirst and then get out of the way for the other dogs to have their turn. Romney’s been trained since birth that not only are there No Other Dogs But Him And His Ilk, but that dogs who don’t aspire to immobility on a fat lap are to be snarled at, chased away, and bred out of existence.
In 2010 and 2011, Mitt and Ann paid $6.2 million in federal tax on $42.5 million in income (get away from my food!!!) for an average tax rate just shy of 15 percent (get away from my water!!!), substantially less than what most middle-income Americans pay (yapyapyapyap!!!)
He’s curled up so snugly and safely in the lap of wealth that he’s never once bolted and gallivanted and lived in the world. The freedom’s there, but he’d rather put more diamond studs, more trinkets and jewels, and more frills and feathers on his too-tight collar, and double-check that his leash is double-clasped to it, never to come loose.
And there’s nothing wrong with any of that—except that Romney has zero sympathy for those who don’t feel the same way he does. And he’s infecting other people—former friends of mine, who have warped and mutated into creatures of liquid ambition, effortless greed, with zero compassion for anyone who would dare to be happy to work a job and then simply value time with their families and friends and maybe expect some reasonable amount of health care and comfort. I’m seeing too many people, people who should know better, who truly think that life should be an endless hunching over a food bowl, chasing everyone else away, without respite. Fear is the fuel, and nothing frightens them more than people who aren’t fueled by fear.
Nothing wrong with being rich. Nothing wrong with striving and bettering yourself. But there’s definitely something wrong with people confusing capitalism and corporatism (the latter wants to destroy the former)—and then demanding everyone else make the same mistake. Obama is rich—by his own hand. He made his money writing two books—and those didn’t even make him bestseller bucks until after he became president. And he’s acted, as president, the way that people who become rich and know how to spend their money act. He’s traveled the world, broadened his horizons. And in his travels, maybe, maybe he’s tried to conquer some of the fear which, let’s face it, none of us truly never rid ourselves of. But goddamit, he’s trying. Mitt Romney is the only person I’ve ever seen who’s traveled the world in wealth and comfort and managed to narrow the canvas of his experience and opinions.
Obama has heroically, foolhardily, quixotically tried to make things work for both sides—the super-rich and the people who are genuinely repelled by the world of the super-rich. They can both live on this planet. Not according to Romney, though, who’s repeatedly said, over and over, “I believe everyone should live this way.” This statement is usually made standing on someone’s private tennis court.
Well, everyone can’t have a private tennis court. Obama understands this. Romney recoils from this. Obama wants to make a world in which every strata can live, happily, on their own terms. In recoiling from the gorgeous messiness of America, Romney is building a scrubbed-clean, fenced-off citadel, surrounded by a worker dorm shantytown.
I’m voting for Obama. I’m voting for the messiness.
Los Angeles, California
Patton Oswalt is a comedian and writer who lives and drinks in Los Angeles.
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