So now, I’m seeing the Mitt Romney signs go up –and one that especially sticks with me is the one that says “Believe in America.”
If ever there was a sign with racist code and rank hypocrisy rolled into one phrase, that one is it.
That slogan resonates with people who believe that to choose President Obama, a Christian black guy with an Arabic middle name over Romney, the white Mormon, is to discard what America is supposed to stand for; which in their mind is a country where white men are supposed to be leaders and black men are supposed to be lackeys.
Yet from what I’ve been able to tell so far, if anyone stands out as a symbol of disbelief in America, it’s Romney.
If the presumptive Republican presidential nominee truly believed in America, he wouldn’t be stashing his money in overseas bank accounts to avoid paying taxes that the middle class Americans whose votes he’s seeking have to pay.
If he believed in America, he wouldn’t have advocated that General Motors and Chrysler, pillars of the U.S. automobile industry, be allowed to go bankrupt.
And if he truly believed in America, he’d come clean about his finances and trust Americans to draw their own conclusions about his wealth.
Yet Romney isn’t having any of that.
Maybe that’s because the meager information that some investigations have revealed might lead people to further scrutinize whether he believes in America.
According to a recent report by Vanity Fair, 55 pages of his 2010 tax return, which he released only after relentless prodding by his GOP opponents, are devoted to reporting transactions with foreign entities.
There’s also a $3 million Swiss bank account, and the tax havens of Bermuda, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands, where Romney and his family have assets, but which bear the tagline, “Value: not disclosed in tax returns.”
Also, according to Vanity Fair, Romney and his wife, Ann, paid $6.2 million in federal taxes on $42 million in income. That means they paid an average tax rate lower than 15 percent, which is less than what most middle class taxpayers pay.
So then, how can Romney muster the nerve to campaign under the slogan, “Believe in America,” when it’s clear that, at least when it comes to his money and to him paying the taxes that are necessary to keep the streets paved and the U.S. functioning above Third World level, he obviously doesn’t believe in it?
He can, because he’s counting on people, especially white people in the poorest red states, to vote on fear.
He’s counting on them to see his penchant for stashing money overseas and being mum about his wealth as a righteous attempt to avoid supporting a federal government they’ve hated since the Civil War and the 1960s.
He’s also counting on people to vote their frustrations; with the unemployment rate still unacceptably high at 8.2 percent, many will vote for change for the sake of change.
And Romney, as well as the Republican operatives behind him, are hoping that those who are duped by his “Believe in America,” slogan will show up at the polls in greater numbers than black people who may be frustrated by a 14.2 percent unemployment rate and efforts to suppress their vote.
I hope that doesn’t happen.
Now I don’t have a problem with Romney being wealthy. But I do have a problem with him apparently hiding his money in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes in the nation that made it possible for him to become a rich man.
Those aren’t the actions of someone who sees America as a place to believe in, but as a land of loopholes to be exploited.
It’s too bad that some folks will vote for Romney because of his whiteness, or out of their own frustrations – before realizing that.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her at tonyaajw@twitter.