The Figure of Mitt

Commenter comrade Kolohe disagrees that Mitt is anything special: “Romney is not really a harbinger of doom (or DOOOOOM!!!), as the Nation has certainly survived empty suit naked opportunists before (and will certainly suffer them in the furture).” Asked to compare Romney to similar political figures among past presidents or major contenders, he offers a list of “empty-suited naked opportunists”: “Richard M. Nixon, James G. Blaine, Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, John F. Kerry, and perhaps even Barrack H. Obama.”  He leaves it to us actually to do the comparing, but I wonder if “empty-suited naked opportunist” – his description, not mine – does not end up being simply synonymous with “politician,” or at least with the “political” part of being a politician in contemporary emptily and nakedly opportunistic discussion.

To me, Romney represents – the figure of Mitt is – a principle of pure adaptation to contingency, as an expression of the indifference of free market capitalism to any value that does not emerge from its own processes. He is not an empty suit, but might as well be, as there is no ought to his is. It cannot even be discussed. All successful politicians must by definition adapt to the system which in its pure form – something to be feared – is the system of empty opportunism (we hold empty opportunism to be self-evident). The figure of Mitt represents its nothingness exquisitely, but the meaningfulness of its meaninglessness would have at least as much to do with us and where we are as with poor rich Mitt the man.


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The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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