I find it so fascinating that some people in this country are concerned about the level of wealth that Mitt Romney has. It’s almost as if his wealth is just too much for any one person running for president to have, and his having multiple vacation homes — one in New Hampshire, one in San Diego and another in Utah — is really bad for anyone seeking public office
This point came up recently at a conference I attended in Washington, D.C., where Mitt Romney’s wealth was the main point of conversation. For the sake of the group’s privacy, I will not mention its name in this space, but I thought it was worth writing about, because the group is large, about 70 percent African-American and overwhelmingly Democratic.
My response: So what? Who cares about the amount of money Mitt Romney has? Good for him and more power to him! And how can I be like him, for we all should aspire to have his kind of wealth and more! Many people in the room gasped when I said it, but I meant it. Let me explain: I do not equate people’s wealth with their ability to do a job — especially that of president of the United States. Let’s all remember that wealthy people have run for president before (John Kerry in 2004 who was even more wealthy than Mitt Romney) and we have even had some wealthy presidents who actually turned out to be very empathic towards those who did not have much (Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the list goes on). So being wealthy is not and should not be the issue. Empathizing with and understanding those who have next to nothing or very little is much more important.
And this is what this election is going to be about; it’s going to be about two contrasting points of view about where this country should be from a fiscal and social perspective. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both wealthy, although it’s fair to say that Romney’s wealth is much more vast and complex. Obama’s wealth is “new money” that was amassed in a relatively short period of time when he entered the national political scene in 2004. Romney doesn’t talk about his wealth —– nor should he, because I’m not sure people outside of Washington even care. What they care about is Obama’s long-term economic plan juxtaposed against Romney’s. They’re looking for specifics, and they’re frustrated that even though Obama’s plan has not totally gotten us out of this economic mess, at least he has a plan. We’re not too sure about Romney, and that, I think, is the reason why people are frustrated, again, not about his wealth, but his specific plan on how to create wealth so others can be like him.
This is the frustration that I posed to the group, and not surprisingly, many people changed their minds — not about voting for Romney, per se, but about accepting the fact that personal wealth should not be the issue in this campaign. The two very different visions should be. In other words, this should not be about people’s personal lives and all about your life, your future and the future of your family.
As mentioned, Obama has done a good job thus far of sharing his thoughts about the America he sees over the next four years with some specificity. Mr. Romney, you have an equal playing field. Now, it’s your turn.
Follow Robert Traynham on Twitter @roberttraynham.