Cheap and easy

Last week, this column particularly angered one reader.

Specifically, the nonfan, identified only as “strangewalker,” took exception to my stance on the 2012 election.

He was outraged not only that I affirmed my support for President Barack Obama, but also that I praised him for fighting for the payroll-tax extension.

“How many more babies does Obama have to kill before he will lose your support Rachel?” the reader sniped in the Readers Comments section. “Endless, illegal war is not worth $40 per paycheck to me. I can’t be bought off so cheap.”

While there seem to be two arguments at work here—a pro-life stance as well as one that is presumably against the ongoing wars in the Middle East—the underlying ethos is clear: I’m cheap and easy when it comes to my political persuasions.

Sorry, but you missed the point completely.

I hardly agree with all of Obama’s policies and actions—particularly on Guantanamo Bay or the war in Afghanistan.

But I am also firmly pro-choice, and so the president’s stance on that topic is a big game changer when it comes to getting my vote. Simply put, it’s highly unlikely that I’d ever vote for a candidate who didn’t share those views or, more importantly, act upon them—no matter how much cash he or she could otherwise save me.

Which brings us back to the money talk.

President Obama does support one of the causes most important to me, and he’s pledging to close, however narrowly, the gap between the 1 percent and the rest of us.

And that’s an issue—if not the underlying issue—defining the 2012 presidential campaign.

The divide between the wealthy and the rest of us (poor, middle class, whatever) is the biggest concern among Americans, according to a new poll examining sources of the cultural divide in American society.

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of those polled believe there is a “very strong” conflict between the rich and the poor. In contrast, only 47 percent of those surveyed felt the same way in 2009.

Clearly, these days, we’ve got money on the mind.

Too bad that the leading Republican frontrunner doesn’t understand the degree to which people are concerned. Last week, in an appearance on NBC, Mitt Romney suggested that all this talk about money is, well, a bit déclassé.

“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like,” he explained. “But [President Obama] has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach, and I think it will fail.”

Really, Romney? Envy-oriented?

What we talk about when we talk about money has nothing to do with jealousy because someone has a nicer home, a newer car or the flush bank account required for a new flat-screen TV, fancy gadgets or an amazing vacation.

No, this is about the fundamental ability to feed and clothe ourselves, access to affordable health care and, ultimately, the kind of financial confidence that can’t be undermined by an unexpected car repair or some other potentially catastrophic expense.

Does that make us selfish and narcissistic? Does it make us cheap and easy?


This election isn’t about an unwillingness to sacrifice for the greater good; it’s about meeting basic needs. It’s not about a desire to become part of the 1 percent; it’s about making life better in the 99 percent.