It’s Authoritarianism: Window into the White Conservative Male Mind
MITT ROMNEY: Marriage is a status. It’s not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state and as a result, our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country. I believe we should have a federal amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
If marriage is a status, then being married is like being wealthy, being employed, being straight, being male, being heterosexual, being faithful, being corporatist, being American. I’m just thinking of Romney’s statuses. Lo and Behold! These are things Romney likes about himself, things he likely believes justify a traditional social hierarchy. In my opinion, it’s clear that his morality is corrupt and his position is the result of much unearned ambition. But that’s me talking. Let’s permit Romney’s logic to do the talking.
Romney is worrying that his status should be constant, which means protected by law. Whether he is in California, Oklahoma, or Maine, his status should be married. Now this sounds similar to the argument human right’s activists would make on behalf of non-traditional married couples, whose marriages aren’t recognized in many states. (Like a lot of conservatives, he appropriates a progressive claim and whitens it up.) Romney insists his status should be recognizable and protected anywhere in the United States. And since his status is married, that status should represent what he represents. I suppose it’s a common mistake that many conservatives make. A status is a category that defines a state of being. That’s a state, not a look. But that’s for another post.
If we’re to take Romney seriously—that he is rational, reasonable, understanding, and earnest—his statement also means that all of our statuses should be visibly constant so that they mean something to both the individuals who occupy a status and the state who regulates statuses. Remember, his claim is not about marriage, it’s about status. What’s married in Alabama is married in Ohio, as is what’s traditionally, possibly legally, male, female, wealthy, poor, employer, employee, disabled, single, etc.
Where does Romney’s sentiment come from? His desire for constancy across the country? Is it like a consumer walking into Applebee’s anywhere and knowing his nachos will look and taste the same because they come from the same place and are cooked in the same way? No. It’s much worse. The desire for consistency, for constant principles of sameness, for legally recognized status, is a desire to obliterate social difference in the free market. Romney is talking like a manager, like an employer, like a capitalist, like a Mormon.
It’s clear Romney wants to sound Democratic, but his argument is authoritarian. This is the same guy who recently remarked, “Corporations are people, my friend.” He’s a corporatist white conservative who’s earnest when he claims he believes it’s the government’s responsibility to protect and idealize his status in order to differentiate it from others’ statuses. And this absolutely means, it’s the government’s responsibility to prohibit and delegitimize the statuses that challenge the authority and righteousness of his.
In this way, Mitt Romney is not at all different from Michele Bachmann. Tim Pawlenty is jealous.