Editorial | Refrain from gloating over Romney’s gaffe
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 01:09
On Monday, remarks made by Mitt Romney at a campaign fundraiser for wealthy donors in May were leaked, prompting an explosion of social media gloating, mainstream media attention and denunciations across political parties. Romney told his supporters that it is not worthwhile to fight for the votes of the 47 percent of the voting block that already steadfastly supports President Barack Obama, implying that those voters are too reliant on the government to be willing to vote for Romney.
The national response, predictably, was swift and brutal. The 24-hour news cycle lit up with talking heads criticizing Romney for his apathy. Facebook and Twitter users went berserk — not only condemning Romney’s viewpoint, but also exulting in his gaffe. Statuses gleefully exclaimed that the campaign was all over for Romney and that Obama was sure to have a second term locked up. Young and liberal Obama supporters, not unlike many students on the Hill, turned to social media to tell the world just how happy they were to see Romney falter so badly — and so publically.
The social media users who reveled in Romney’s error were happy to see, they assumed, the Republican candidate’s chances of winning the election slip a bit. But those reactions betray interests that are, ostensibly, purely partisan: As long as Obama wins, the Romney critics in question would be happy.
This leak is embarrassing for the Romney campaign, to say the least. With just one comment, Romney pitted himself against nearly half the country — decidedly not the smartest way to win an election. But gloating over Romney’s gaffe without giving his words serious weight only considers his assertion’s short-term consequences.
If Romney truly has no interest in 47 percent of America, nearly half of the country will have good reason to be concerned if he is elected this November. And that is far from an impossible scenario — the latest polling numbers have Romney nearly tied with Obama. Nothing is set in stone yet, and if Romney did mean what he said, it should be no laughing matter to his opponents.
Reveling in admittedly outrageous talking points hinders legitimate issue-based debate. Americans need to hear the positions of each candidate in order to make informed decisions about how to cast their ballots, not just nasty rhetoric and overplayed sound clips. Gloating certainly won’t help the 47 percent in question — or the rest of the country, or this campaign — move forward.