What Mitt Romney and Cindy Sanders Share in Common
What struck me most about the simple-minded and reprehensible statements Mitt Romney made at a May 17th fundraiser, first reported by Mother Jones, about the 47% of Americans who just want hand outs was how familiar it sounded. I don’t just mean that it was a less-coded version of the attack on the lower classes we’ve heard from the Republican party for decades. It sounded like a voice in my head. Eventually I recognized that voice as Cindy Sanders, long-time love interest and short-time girlfriend of Sam Weir in Paul Feig’s ill-fated classic series Freaks and Geeks.
For the uninitiated, Freaks and Geeks documents the trials of two groups of students at McKinley High School in suburban Michigan in 1980. One group is the geeks, which includes the scrawny freshman Sam Weir and his friends Neil Schweiber and Bill Haverchuck (one of the greatest television characters ever created). The other group is the freaks, which is the crowd Sam’s sister Lindsay hangs out with: Daniel Dessario, Ken Miller, Nick Andopolis and Kim Kelly. The show helped launch the careers of James Franco (Daniel), Seth Rogen (Ken) and Jason Segel (Nick), and their roles on the show remain, arguably, their finest performances.
Cindy Sanders is the McKinley cheerleader who, from the inception of the series, Sam Weir has a giant crush on. It appears that this crush is going nowhere when Cindy begins dating the captain of the basketball team, Todd Schellinger. Then Cindy and Todd break up and Cindy confides in Sam, then decides she thinks he’s the nicest boy in school and has a crush on him. Initially elated, Sam soon finds their relationship isn’t everything he thought it would be and Cindy is a shallow, mean-spirited person underneath her sweet persona.
Cindy, who is the head of the McKinley Young Republicans club (and is thus awarded the honor of introducing Vice President George Bush when he speaks at the school), converses with Sam about politics at a screening of The Jerk (which she hates, much to Sam’s dismay). She tells Sam she doesn’t “…believe poor people should be given hand outs. I mean they should get jobs — handouts just make them lazy.” Her ex-boyfriend Todd never understood, she goes on, “He’s a democrat. They like handouts.” Her rudimentary understanding of the politics of aid programs is strikingly similar to that of Mitt Romney. Compare Cindy’s comments with those made by Romney:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement.
Mitt’s philosophy on tax policy and the role of the government really isn’t any more nuanced or sophisticated than that of Cindy Sanders. They both base their opinions on the myth that every wealthy American earned their wealth and government aid programs use their hard-earned money to bail out lazy poor people who refuse to even try to find a job. The way in which Romney boils down his party’s “Makers and Moochers” ideology is adolescent in both its directness and its clear disdain for such a large group of people. It’s also elementary in its placement of an entire nation into two groups. It’s a statement I’m sure Cindy Sanders could get behind.
So Mitt Romney shares his political ideology with a vindictive, immature, (fictional) Young Republican who was hastily (due to the show’s impending cancellation) turned into a sort of villain. Like Sanders, Romney quickly went from a character we didn’t know much about to one who revealed his true ugliness. Most agree that Romney’s gaffe has ruined his shot at the presidency, but what does it say about our country that he’s even a candidate? One thing is for sure: American politics have not evolved much since the Reagan presidency.
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