Romney tells Secret Service detail to “go and get a real job” – well, not really but that’s what he implied…


[President Obama] “took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have, and one that was essential to the task at hand.  He had almost no experience working in a business.  Jobs to him are about government.” Mitt Romney in his acceptance speech.

I was struck by this largely ignored passage in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech in Tampa for two reasons.

The first was the pause at the end of the “[President Obama] “took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have” bit and the laughter in the Convention hall. This was, to me at least, another subtle dog-whistle to the “birthers” and other nuts who maintain Obama is not really a proper American.

But my main point today is about the jibe that Obama has never had a ‘real’ job in business, and the implication that “government” jobs are not real. Anyone with a brain who thinks about this assertion for a minute will realise just how ridiculous it is.

Mitt Romney should perhaps ask the Secret Service protection detail, who would be willing to take a bullet to protect a mere candidate for the US Presidency – do you have a real job?

Or the hundreds of firefighters, emergency responders, police and other public servants who died on 9/11 trying to rescue members of the public from the Twin Towers – did they have ‘real’ jobs?

Or the millions of teachers, health workers, law enforcement personnel, and many more public servants who work to make our societies safer, healthier and better educated places to live in – do you have real jobs?

This jibe is part of a neo-liberal myth that ‘government’ jobs do not create wealth, they merely redistribute it or consume it. This is complete nonsense. The reason every single developed economy in the world has a significant government sector is because it both creates value itself and aids the private sector to create it too.

Governments create wealth and value by providing things that make us all better off – roads, national security, health, welfare, prisons, education, police, courts, etc etc. Just go to any part of the world where these things either don’t exist or are corrupt and ineffective and you soon realise just how much ‘government’ creates true wealth in our societies.

Governments help the private sector create wealth by guaranteeing property rights, money, contracts, infrastructure, and by ensuring a supply of healthy, well-educated, workers. Again, go to countries where these things are not enabled by the state and see how easy it is to do business.

So, Mr Romney, if you really think ‘government’ jobs aren’t real jobs – send you Secret Service detail away and tell them to go and find a “real” job.

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About Colin Talbot

Professor of Government. Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, England.
This entry was posted in International, Political Economy, Politics, Public Administration. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Romney tells Secret Service detail to “go and get a real job” – well, not really but that’s what he implied…

  1. Gabby O'Keefe says:

    Another excellent piece. Thanks. Hope the Obama team read it and use it. It would be a good idea for Miliband and his team to do likewise. It should not need to spelled out but we have to listen to this nonsense so often – and this man is running for the US presidency!!

  2. Mary R. Hamilton says:

    Thank you for saying this so elegantly and forcefully!

  3. Alan Tomlinson says:

    And what about the “reality” of our elected representatives’ work? In June this year, I chatted with reception staff at the Virginia State Capitol, designed as a temple to democracy and housing the “oldest legislative body in the western hemisphere” (Wiki). They told me that the legislators only sit for about three months of the year, and the rest of the time “they have real jobs”. What’s not real about arriving at decisions on matters of vital public concern such as education and health? To paraphrase Colin, go to countries where people are not represented by elected officials and see how easy it is to do business with warlords backed up by fleets of “technicals”.

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