Mitt Romney — The Artful Dodger

Romney is evading more than revealing his tax returns.

He’s dodging the arts as if they were some liberal conspiracy to make his dog gay or give healthcare to the domestic minions that tend his multiple mansions.

Yup, Mitt makes no bones about it — first he intends to eliminate Obamacare on “day one”… even though most serious economists have found that would further damage our economy and cost more in tax payer dollars…then on day two, the arts would get the full-on Tea Party treatment. 

You’d think he’d want to take a break after all that hard work of single-handedly condemning so many Americans to bankruptcy and an early grave…but no, the Tea Party Superhero, clad in magically protective Mormon underpanties, with his sidekick Robin… er, Paul  Ryan, won’t stop until they’ve defeated all imagined evil!

                           BAM!                             SPLAT!                                   POW!

They must fulfill the lifelong conservative wet dream (note to domestic minions: launder magic panties) of defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities –a huge drag on our economy (not his panties… but the arts) at $146 million per year. After all, that’s a whopping 91 cents per taxpayer annually. Can you imagine?  It’s like two fucking stamps– who can afford that?  

It’s way too much money in the face of other important budgetary concerns such as supporting the Great American War Machine in Afghanistan and Iraq which jointly come in at $352,380,952,400 per year — that’s in billions if you count the digits, give or take a billion.

Showing the math: with an estimated $3.7 trillion spent thus far (Marine Corps Times), divided by a little over 10.5 years, gives us over $352 billion a year. So divide that by the 160 million taxpayers and you get a figure of $2,202 per person per year.  Quality war-mongering isn’t cheap!

Hey, just think of all the nifty things you can do with the extra 91 cents our would-be super heroes plan to throw our way…with that we can pay off our cumulative war debt in 2,420 years. (I’m with Bill Clinton — I use arithmetic.) 

Conservative contempt and suspicion of the arts is nothing new. They’ve been trying to defund arts and sciences for decades, while defaming intellectuals, teachers, artists and scientists with a near Pol Pot zeal. It’s the “stop thinking and keep making war” culture that fuels their economic vision and their darkest ambitions for our species.

World War II created our twisted economic model — our economy boomed, as did a new generation of babies, under the robust manufacturing of perishable, single use items employed in wartime — you know — bombs and bullets. In peace, we consciously extended that paradigm into a vast new world of shallow consumerism underpinned by our newly cultivated appetite for landfill fodder.

Baby boomers gave us a brave new world of the cheap and shiny objectification of every aspect of our lives. From cars to fast foods to underarm razors –all disposable. Timeliness trumped timelessness — demonstrated daily as we stand in front of our microwaves watching store-bought disposable lunches go round and round muttering c’mon! c’mon! Three minutes being an eternity. We then pitch the empty container in the recycle bin with the satisfaction of misappropriated pride as if we deserve a special sticker proclaiming “I Recycled Today!” 

And thus began the American era of consumerism eclipsing culturalism — the arts being the first to go, with capitalism driving the bus to the big box store running down all things cultural in its hurried path, converging on the planned Tea Party destination of an openly boastful contempt for the arts.

Under a Romney/Ryan regime how would the arts look?

Remember, their attack is not limited to the NEA — they wage war on arts at all levels, starting with our children. Arts are the first to be cut in education. When times are lean, conservatives swoop-in to pry the crayolas right out of kids’ hands as if they were some corrupting gateway drug to theater, or worse yet…comedy. 

Art and comedy go hand in hand — they both tickle the same parts of the brain. There is a reason why conservatives were horrified by the story of the bothched Jesus restoration, and why liberals had so much fun with it. It was just one more boring “masterpiece”  that looked exactly like any other (artists copied heavily back then — no copyright laws), until a fiesty 84 year-old granny took her cheap acrylics and “fixed” it….and her work is beloved, albeit truly awful, but it did exactly what art should do — bring people together to talk about it. It instantly became one of the most compelling and hilarious Internet meme trends. Good, bad, funny — art , is art.

Conservatives devalue the arts because they can not easily harness their power as a capital-generating force through the economic model of disposable goods and obselecence.

Oddly it was an economist, of all people, who was the father of the Great Britain Art Council. John Maynard Keynes understood that the arts are the one human activity that cannot be sustained through work-a-day capitalism. Indeed, they are damaged by the whims of market forces which tend to stifle individual spontaneous creativity and reward broad uniformity.  Keynes was an advocate of public arts funding without any creative oversight. He additionally recognized that the arts do not have to be grounded in any economic justification to bear a profoundly meaningful value for humanity.

Although that doesn’t stop politicians from now and then attempting to draw a bright green line from the arts to the economy. In 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a brazen slash and burn stance against public funding of the arts — a politically unpopular move that left him scrambling to find ways to walk-back his bad policy ideas. In a dramatic 180, his administration started referring to the arts as an “investment”, employing comic arguments such as insisting Justin Bieber is an exemplary artist. Their Heritage Minister, James Moore, is criss-crossing the great north handing-out arts money like candy tossed from a parade float, bragging that Canada is the only G8 country that didn’t gut their arts budget in the global economic crisis.

Hey, whatever gets them there — specious reasoning or not. Gotta love the Canadians.  And if Mitt gets elected in November, we’ll have yet one more reason to move there.

Amy Kerr Hardin




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2 Responses to Mitt Romney — The Artful Dodger

  1. Randy Priest says:

    Amy, you are so right on with this article. I am a boomer but my mother had a sewing box and my dad had a work bench. With those resources I grew up believing I could make (or at least fix) anything. All through school I had a choice of two or three kinds of art classes and shop classes, went to museums and learned about material culture. Today, my sister-in-law teaches art in that same district and has over 600 students a week in three different elementary schools. She never gets to learn their names or say hello to most of them. No wonder so many kids today feel ill- equipped to do things or appreciate the work of others. It has long been understood that learning well depends on using the affective and cognitive domains together; yet our leaders seem to think that they can profit by moving our resources from the former to the latter.

    • admin says:


      Public schools have become a place where, administrators and classroom teachers alike, view art and music classes (technically known by the term: “specials”) as babysitters meant as holding pens while the “regular” teachers do their classroom prep (i.e. grading endless inane worksheets). The culture within the system is loaded with derisive contempt for what they see as the lowest caste among educators. This twisted model is endemic within our broader society.

      It is a sign of cultural intellectual decay.


      Amy Kerr Hardin

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