The Problem with “Small Business Owners”

The Butcher and I watched some of the RNC until I begged him to turn it. I thought everyone did fine, what I saw of it. They were obviously fairly successfully walking a thin line by trying to prove that women are Republicans without bringing up any unpleasantness about why they might feel the need to prove such a thing.

But the Butcher and I were talking about how hard they kept hitting the “small business owner” talking point. Romney needs working class white people to vote for him. They are not business owners. They work for business owners. And here’s the problem Romney has–think of your own jobs you’ve had. For every business owner you’ve worked with, who was behind the counter with you or stocking shelves or running some day-to-day part of the business that seemed as difficult as what you were doing, how many did you have who were rarely on-site or who sat at their desks farting around on the internet all day or who had an administrative assistant who really seemed to run the joint?

Or worse yet, how many of you worked some place where you, doing the manual labor, didn’t have air conditioning, but the front offices did?

Working class people don’t have any problem voting for the small business owner who is running the bobcat while you’re pouring concrete. They don’t want to vote for the guy who’s playing solitaire in the air conditioned office while they’re sweating their asses off in the warehouse.

And the Butcher strongly felt like almost everyone they put on stage was an air-conditioned person and it was a mistake to keep reminding voters of it by referring to them as small business owners.

I can’t say I disagree with him. But I don’t know how it will play. We have a strong desire in this country to believe we are better than someone. It may be possible to get voters to throw their lots in with people they hate in real life if only to prove that they are not like those poor people on welfare.

I don’t know.

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10 thoughts on “The Problem with “Small Business Owners”

  1. It may be possible to get voters to throw their lots in with people they hate in real life if only to prove that they are not like those poor people on welfare.

    This has been the GOP’s lifeblood since the 1960s. It still works like a charm. Unfortunately, part of the reason it’s still a politically viable strategy is that the ‘other side’ has pursued a similar (if less explicit) course.

  2. I’ve thought that Mittens has the cadence and delivery of the guy that tells you about taking the kids to Europe and then tells you they are getting rid of your benefits and cutting your pay for your own good so they can continue to employ you. Don’t know too many people who like that guy.

  3. And then Duchess of Bloomfield, Ann Lady Romney d’Wolfeboro doesn’t make it much better by giving a speech that says, in essence, “Duke Mittington is not ‘of’ you people, but he is generally ‘for’ you people.”

  4. The political dynamic really isn’t about front office AC versus the stifling warehouse; rather, it’s about upward mobility versus helplessness. Whatever you think of the Republicans, you must understand that they have focused on that part of the working class who retain that native American individualism and optimism which holds that one can work his way up, educate himself, and thereby persevere over the setbacks and vagaries of life to achieve professional goals….not only is this American dream possible, they posit, it is held to be the normal way; conversely: those who fail are merely lazy.

    The perverse consequence of American optimism is that many in the warehouse take a pro-capital, pro-management stance on business even when it’s not in their own best interest…and they vote accordingly! We can’t ignore that organized labor negotiated itself right out of the very jobs they had hoped to defend through years of inflexibility while more affordable, foreign labor markets flourished. After those setbacks, we are not surprised that the American labor market is more ready and better oriented than ever for this unending cycle: the lucky get raises that don’t even cover cost of living increases, everyone pays a larger share of their medical care (while coverage is annually reduced), and, of course, the defined retirement package is utterly nonexistent to new entrants to the labor pool (that is: we pay for our own retirement out of even smaller wages and have come to think nothing of it).

    But, especially in the right-to-work South, much of labor sympathizes with the proprietor: most voting Americans prefer an economy where each has a 4.8% chance of becoming a millionaire to an economy in which 99% are employed, literate, and have their inoculations. We can abhor such a situation, or we can rejoice in the happy fact that at least one need not surrender a finger or two as part of the cost of employment….or maybe we do: I’ll save that for a later OSHA rant!

  5. Andy, this country has had presidents who were not of but for the part of the people they considered their primary responsibility. Two of them named Roosevelt come to mind, and there have been others. The problem with Romney isn’t that he’s rich; it’s that he’s in a bubble that keeps him from recognizing anyone who isn’t in there with him.

    But … I didn’t listen to Ann Romney speak. I had a bet on that she would talk about “you people” again–did she really do it?

  6. I was trying to capture my impression of the essence of the speech, but no, it wasn’t literally phrased that way. But like you suggest, I think it’s only a matter of time before the mask slips and Aunt Agatha Gregson is once more revealed beneath.

  7. (As Bertie Wooster might have said: “The old bird gave a right spirited showing, but her speech was a trifle heavier on the noblesse and not so much on the oblige, wot?”)

  8. I thought the strangest thing about her speech was that she can get applause at the Republican convention for giving specific examples of sexism, like everyone is in agreement that women’s lives are unfairly harder than men’s, just because she frames it as something that build’s women’s character.

  9. This is totally subjective and somewhat unfair but the more I see of Her Ladyship the more I find my attention drawn to the fact that she has a small mean mouth. It wasn’t something that affected my first impression but every photo I see lately it seems noticeable.

  10. This just in (via ABC News): “Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.”

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