Playwright George Bernard Shaw warned us, "Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power." It's a forecast of coming attractions should Mitt Romney steal the Seal next Tuesday.
So here's the deal: Mitt Romney's a phony. While Hurricane Sandy's damage proliferated this week, his campaign rally disguised as a "storm relief event" encapsulates the façade. He inherited wealth. He is a man with no core, no principles, no understanding of ordinary citizens' plights, no concrete proposals to fix the country's problems. He respects few besides his super-wealthy cronies. He disrespects journalists. He exudes disdain for women. His disrespect for the President of the United States cascaded with condescension during their first debate. He disrespects the American people's intelligence by misstating his own record and comments, even within hours of having made them, and expects you to buy into his falsehoods.
His campaign has been defined by platitudes and lies, acknowledged by his pollster who said that they would not be deterred by fact-checkers. It's false that President Barack Obama has mismanaged the economy; it's been slowly recovering for years despite Republicans blocking every major jobs and other economic proposals presented by the president to a do-nothing Congress.
Romney's latest lie is his Oct. 25 statement to an Ohio rally that Jeep was thinking of moving all production to China. Despite being immediately refuted by the Chrysler Corporation, the message is continuing in radio and television ads.
So here's a peek into life under a Romney/Ryan administration, telegraphed by campaign pronouncements and practices and Mitt's reign as Massachusetts governor.
Medicare will be replaced by a voucher system that will substantially increase health care costs for seniors.
Secrecy will be widespread, covering issues positions and policies similar to his secrecy during the campaign. Romney has been so secretive that he refused to take questions from any reporter during the past three weeks.
Voting rights will be curtailed over time in a drive for a one-party state, the Republican/Tea Party variety. Republican-promulgated voter suppression laws and voter intimidation projects in the key battleground states have been one of this year's big stories.
Government regulation will increase, not decrease, into private matters such as abortion, contraception and other health issues. The permanency of these changes will be ordained by the appointment of more radically activist justices to the Supreme Court, pushing a 5-4 conservative majority even further to the right and assuring the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Mitt Romney may have aggressively debated Barack Obama but he has been meek elsewhere. He declined to challenge Richard Mourdock when the extreme right-wing Indiana Senate candidate claimed that a rape victim's pregnancy was God's will. He's cowered before Rush Limbaugh.
Shannon O'Brien, his opponent in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial race, discounts Romney's promise to work with Democrats. "You can look at how he governed," she said. "He vetoed 800 pieces of legislation ... like the minimum wage or ... access to contraceptive rights ... Sometimes they were petty ... (like) a special bill that would have helped a disabled cop; vetoing money that would have paid for kosher meals for elderly people in nursing homes ... I think something like 750 vetoes were overridden by the Democratic legislature. That doesn't sound like a guy who was playing ball with people on the other side."
During the last few days we've witnessed genuine bipartisan leadership as President Obama, joined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, illustrated hands-on involvement with the start of clean-up operations in Hurricane Sandy's wake. It is community organizing at the state and national level.
This brings us back to George Bernard Shaw.
Romney's repeated commitments to undo programs that have built this country over several generations and his comments to wealthy donors in a private meeting that he's not concerned about 47 percent of Americans demonstrate clearly that these fools will corrupt the power they'd inherit following a victory next Tuesday.
Martin Sheen, who played President Bartlet in the Emmy-winning series "West Wing," recently said: "Mr. Romney really showed ... how stupid he is and arrogant. There's an old phrase, arrogance is ignorance matured, and that's what we saw ... He's never had to compete for a job or face eviction or struggle to get a college loan. He's a guy that the old phrase applies to: 'he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.'"
Next Tuesday we'll learn whether all Mitt's resources have enabled him to steal home or whether he'll be tagged out at the plate.
- Michael Zucker is a resident of South Lake Tahoe and a stockbroker with Regal Securities.