I have a problem in common with Mitt Romney.
And I don't just mean the fact that we both wonder whether our $500,000 dressage horse will be OK riding in our car elevator. No, I mean the fact that both of us are having some trouble dealing with the reality of a world that is no longer easily fractured and compartmentalized.
See, Mitt Romney has taken some flak recently for a little candid video that was released of him speaking at a $50,000 a plate dinner to a group of wealthy supporters. And the thing about Mitt Romney's speech is that it was specifically calibrated for that room of people. The things he said resonated greatly with his target audience (although admittedly if you pay $50,000 to join someone for dinner, you are going to feel stupid if you don't convince yourself that the host is brilliant).
Unfortunately, thanks to a surreptitious recording and subsequent posting to YouTube, Romney's words reached a lot of people who weren't in his target audience. And many of these people seem offended by comments, like "It would be helpful to be Latino," or "Forty-seven percent of Americans believe the government has a responsibility to care for them. ... My job is not to worry about those people."
Now what you have to understand, as someone who thinks that sounds perfectly fine, is that many other people might be offended by that. And what you have to understand, as someone offended by Romney's words, is that many
The reason for this is simple: Different groups of people find different comments appropriate. A comment that will please a wealthy donor might not please a veteran struggling to make ends meet, just as a policy that will please Mitt Romney in 2004 might not please Mitt Romney in 2012. But the comments Romney makes end up being heard by everyone, and some people might not like them.
I can empathize because I live on the Internet.
On the Internet, it's always campaign season. And once again, I'm running for the position of "That guy who writes interesting, funny or relevant things often enough that you'll keep reading him." Obviously, my constituency is much smaller than Romney's, but I still know that my messages to one group won't universally resonate.
The problem is, on the Internet, everything is recorded for everyone to see. So when I post messages directed to my North Adams friends, it may seem provincial to my D.C. crowd. When I talk about my translation of the Bible, my non-religious constituents may think I'm too obsessed.
But when you can't talk to one group without everyone knowing about it, what can you do? I could avoid saying anything specific and only make general statements that nobody would object to, but that would limit me to vapid comments like "I love this country" or "I love America's greatness."
I don't want to do that, and I think Romney got sick of it too. That's why we're being honest with our target audiences, because at some point you have to be yourself -- even if that self is partially unappealing to a lot of other people.
Seth Brown is a local humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and partially unappealing. His work appears weekly in the Transcript and weakly on www.RisingPun.com.