The most remarkable aspect of the now widely watched video of an “off-the-cuff” Romney, paradoxically enough, was just how unremarkable his recorded comments really were.
Sure, Romney managed to slur as parasitic all those who feel there is a human right to food, health care, and housing. Sure, Romney revealed his intention as president would be to obstruct peace in the Middle East. And sure, Romney even threw in a racist joke to boot. But how is any of this particularly surprising? How else does one think the elite speak of the working class, Palestinians, and minorities at their clandestine fundraisers?
Of course, all of this is not to say that Romney’s ill-advised candor won’t haunt him. It assuredly will. After all, in the U.S. two-party system—as Romney himself correctly noted—the political campaign is nothing more than a marketing campaign. It is about crafting a marketable brand and then raising the necessary funds from the gatekeepers amongst the ruling elite to peddle it all to the American electorate. It, like all branding, is about creating the most compelling illusion: whether that is the Obama illusion of “hope,” or the Romney illusion of “restoring America.”
But the truth—of which there is plenty to be found in the leaked Romney video—destroys illusions. The self-deception necessary for one to embrace any illusion is thwarted by any insertion of reality. And this was Romney’s greatest sin: to be caught speaking the sordid truth amid a campaign based on perfecting the art of deceit.
The latest self-implosion of the über-capitalist Romney, however, hardly signals a victory for all those below the upper echelons of the economic elite. Lest we forget, the reason political campaigns are based on marketing (i.e., the practice of trying to get people to buy what they neither need nor really want) is because both parties share the same agenda. They’re in essence selling the same defunct product, albeit adorned with slightly different colored glosses.
The true political battle in the two-party system, then, is fought out amongst the power elite over which candidate offers the most effective vehicle through which to enact their agenda. And it is clear in this respect that the power elite are once again beginning to circle back around to Obama. This process was well underway prior to the leaked Romney video, evidenced in that August saw Obama out raise Romney on the back of large contributors for the first time in four months.
It ought, though, to be no surprise to see the elite come back home to Obama. As Glen Ford has rightly argued, Obama is not so much the lesser evil, but the “more effective evil.” That is, Obama has proven to be the best face for American capitalism—the most reliable curator for the interests of American capital. The articulate, black, charming, and ostensibly liberal Obama has demonstrated in four years to be the best man to lead the coming frontal assault on Social Security, Medicare, and public education. Just as Obama has proven over four years of indefinite detention and expanded drone warfare to be a most adept administrator of U.S. imperialism.
Romney, on the other hand, has demonstrated time and again much the opposite. A highly affluent man who belittles half the country as parasites and speaks on his joy of firing people, it ought to be clear, will struggle to sell “entitlement reform” to a public still cherishing the remnants of a social safety net. Likewise, a man who alienates allied nations on trips abroad and bungles an international crisis (as was seen in Romney’s initial response to the Benghazi attack) is not likely to serve as an effective administrator of the American imperial project. In short, Romney’s ineptitude has proven to be a potential liability for the power elite. Hence, Mitt is toast.
Crown Obama. It’s over.