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In his speech after the Iowa Caucuses last night, Mitt Romney argued that America needs to return to being a meritocracy. However, he astutely avoided using the word "meritocracy", instead he danced around it, saying "the right course for America is to remain a merit society". It was as if the word was too big, as if he was concerned that people might not understand him.

Romney's diction illuminated how he views the electorate. He sees them as uneducated, dumb, or simple. In any case, he believes Americans have a small vocabulary. This shouldn't be too surprising, politicians have been pandering to the lowest common denominator for years.

What's striking is the juxtaposition of what he's saying and how he's saying it. He is at once saying the best and brightest need to raise to the top, and that you're not it. He is, in essence, telling the electorate that his policies are going to work against their best interest.

It is easy to understand the draw of a meritocracy. Everyone thinks they're better than average and will raise to the top if society is based on merit. But, by definition, not everybody can be better than average. It is this disconnect, this misunderstanding of ourselves, that Mitt Romney is praying on.

A meritocracy sounds inherently fair, except when it isn't. A meritocracy is especially vicious to the common man when merit is measured by wealth and political connections. A meritocracy championed by those in power will use a measuring stick designed to keep power in the hands of the powerful. We've seen such a type of meritocracy in the banking industry over the past decade, and we've seen it in the history books time and time again. Instead of enabling social mobility through skill, education and hard work, such a system retards social mobility.

Mitt Romney is upholding the morality of a "merit society" to convince the electorate to support his campaign, while at the same time indicating that they won't benefit from such a society. He is able to do this because the electorate doesn't know itself and is therefore unable to win the fight between the people and the powerful.

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Comment Preferences

  •  LOL! The U.S. hasn't been a mostly merit based (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    society for at least 20 years, in my humble opinion.  What now gets most kids into decent colleges?  Mostly money.  What gets them those decent jobs with some benefits right out of school?  Connections made mostly with family money.  What a goddamn joke.  How many different sauces can they pour over this re-hashed Haratio Alger bull shit?  Jeeez.  

    I can just hear it now: "Hey, I know!  Let's try a little 'meritocracy' sauce on that crap.  You know, they ate it with the 'capitalist dynamo' sauce and a side of 'invisible hand, judeo-christian' psuedo vegetables!"

    These are the days of swine and poses.

    by Saint Jimmy on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 11:55:26 AM PST

  •  Not to mention that he won the meritocracy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob B, Marie, Saint Jimmy, NyteByrd1954

    lottery at birth. I suppose, like Trump, he thinks he's a self-made man. Merit indeed!

    He that hath the worst cause makes the most noise - Thomas Fuller

    by Hanging Up My Tusks on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 11:55:53 AM PST

  •  The dream America of the 1%: where every citizen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has a chance to become a Slumdog Millionaire.

    Empathy is going to change the world.

    by Mayfly on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 12:51:31 PM PST

  •  I wonder how far (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wonder how far Romney would have gone if it were not for the Romney money, name, and political clout.  

    Another joker born on 3rd base but thinks he hit a triple.  

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: I'm loving it.

    by NyteByrd1954 on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 01:06:28 PM PST

  •  Someone should ask Mitt if that means he thinks (0+ / 0-)

    his banker buddies who destroyed the economy should get the sack.

    "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

    by voroki on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 02:21:10 PM PST

  •  Sorry to say some Americans (0+ / 0-)

    Don't understand what he is saying.  Merit sounds good, hard work? saving?  They don't see thru the message does not include Medicare and Social Security or any other social safety net.

    I watched C-Span and going through a diner in Iowa asking what they were looking for in a candidate and these working class workers said  "less government" not realizing what Republicans really mean by it or how it would really affect them.

    Do not adjust your mind, there is a flaw in reality.

    by Shrew in Shrewsbury on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 04:58:31 PM PST

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