Bain Capital, the corporate takeover firm founded and run by Mitt Romney, “looted companies, left people unemployed and walked off with millions of dollars.” These were not the words of an Occupier, but those of former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Governor Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs,” said former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. “It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now, and that’s a dangerous place to be.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry also chimed in, proclaioming Bain Capital “looted” South Carolina and got “rich off failures.”
“I have no doubt Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips - whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company, Bain Capital, of all the jobs that they killed.” At another event, Perry charged Romney’s firm had shut down a plant with 150 workers. “That didn’t happen until Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, they looted that company with more than $20 million in management fees,” he said.
It’s a long way from when the beef against Romney was that he was a “flip flopper” or that he wasn’t “a real Conservative.” It’s a long way from when questions about Romney revolved around how many Republican primary voters would never vote for him because he is Mormon.
True, those other charges are still around, and may again roil the Romney campaign. But they have been eclipsed by resonant charges – among Republicans - that private equity firms including Bain are undermining both our economy and the American dream.
It is unlikely that these charges would have surfaced with such fervor without Occupy clearing the way. By shifting the national dialogue away from cutting the national debt, and instead focusing on how the 1% are profiting off the misery of the 99%, Occupy has shifted the core political narrative.
Those who camped out in Zuccotti Park, who were arrested protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge, who had faced repeated epithets of “Socialist” have now been joined by those who once snuffed their noses at them: Republicans.
But, this message isn’t just coming from Republican leaders belatedly seeking to model themselves as populists. Rather, Occupy’s message is resonating among Republican voters even in an ultra-conservative South Carolina, where lay offs and shut downs of factories and businesses have cut deep into the state’s economy. All this just in time for the primary Sat., Jan. 21. And this focus among Republican voters does not seem to be a passing phenomenon.
Among the “fictions” the high powered group wants to debunk include (stated on their website): “Fiction: Private equity firms are ‘quick flip’ artists that buy companies and sell them to make a fast buck.”
Why would the Council debunk such a “fiction” unless that “fiction” has become central to our national dialogue. And although Occupy was not the first to put the idea there – remember Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in 1987? Occupiers have taken this Hollywood story and put it on the front page, on talk radio, even on Fox News.(Meanwhile, Bain Capital, was until last year paying the same lobbying group $1 million a year in membership fees to help spread Gekko’s words: “Greed is good”.)
And the pressure is intensifying. “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” a 27 minutes video of Bain’s depredations under Romney, is scheduled to play on South Carolina TV, either in whole or in part, just days before the primary. In the video, an elderly woman sitting alone on her living couch says, “And that hurt so bad, to leave my home because of one man that’s got 15 homes.” (Romney actually has three). Another woman, sitting alone in a rocker, says “I feel that is the man that destroyed us.”
This sounds and feels like an Occupy message. And yet, the man whose campaign is responsible for putting them on is Newt Gingrich. When unemployment remains well above 8%, those fortunate enough to get jobs are paid less, and thousands of Americans are having their homes foreclosed, this dialogue over who is benefiting as the rest suffer will is unlikely to suddenly go away – even among Republican voters.
So score a victory in the Republican primaries for...Occupy.By Joseph Hanania, Aslan Media Columnist