Rich man wanna be king

Bruce Springsteen and his music have been recurring themes since I started this blog last summer. Clarence Clemons was the impetus for one of my first pieces, and I’ve written about Springsteen here and here and here (and in other posts too, if you care to find them). But tonight I realized how prescient one of his songs really is, when it comes to the upcoming presidential election.

When I saw Springsteen play live for the first time in 2007, I would have to suggest that “Badlands” was a particular highlight. Singing–no, screaming–the chorus of that song, in the company of 20,000 people doing the same thing, opened my eyes to what a communal thing a concert can be. Springsteen and his band play the music, but everyone in the stadium or the arena sings the words, in a kind of group affirmation of how important these songs are to us. It’s really a remarkable thing to experience, once you realize what it is and then give yourself over to it.

A Facebook friend this evening brought up the Mitt Romney tax returns situation, and it presented an opportunity to add something I wrote on the topic in the comments thread. Nobody will pay attention to hundreds of words in a Facebook comment, but its possible that someone might click on a link and consider a more expansive take on something when it’s presented in that form. It’s not the reason I write this blog, but it is a side benefit, I suppose.

One of my Republican friends took exception to the idea that Romney’s tax returns were fair game in an election cycle, and I quoted the following lines from Springsteen’s “Badlands”

Poor man wanna be rich, Rich man wanna be king

There’s no doubt that this applies to Mitt Romney, who has the kind of personal wealth that few of us can imagine. The way he is acting, by refusing to follow the precedent that his own father established many years ago, is the type of an imperious move that will continue to cost him, whichever way he decides to play it. He either releases the returns and tries to explain away the ridiculously low tax rates that he’s paid in the past, or he refuses to release the returns, and people fill in the gaps about his money in whichever way they decide to. And this won’t help him any, in case you’re wondering.

So the discussion turned to whether or not President Obama is “rich.” There’s no question that he is, by many people’s standards, but he’s at least released his tax returns so that we can tell what he makes, and what kind of taxes he actually pays. Obama has met the standard that is now expected of presidential candidates, while Romney has not. It really is just as simple as that.

I’ve said, many times before, that Romney is not getting my vote, under any circumstances. Nevertheless, I continue to write about Romney because I think his election as president would be an unqualified disaster for this country. Wars would be started, services would be slashed, and America as I have known it would rapidly wither away.

With stakes like these, I can’t sit by and allow the news media to frame the debate, without throwing a few ideas of my own into the discussion. And if quoting from one of Springsteen’s songs helps to make a point somehow, I’m more than happy to do that. I think of it as serving my country, in some small way.

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