Foot-in-mouth disease has beset the GOP field for president. Of course, in Washington, D.C., that kind of affliction is only as painful as the media coverage that accompanies it. Few remember that Barack Obama claimed to have enjoyed his visits to the “57 states,” but who can forget poor Dan Quayle’s spelling woes with the noble potato?
Ronald Reagan’s name is bandied about, as though by cloning or reincarnation he could return and restore order to the scattered coalitions working to combine. But if Republicans want to look in their rear-view mirrors for heroes, they need to gaze back to the Middle Ages. It’s time to resurrect the inspirational story of a hero who has been unfairly maligned by his undeserved association with swelled government and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I nominate Robin Hood for president.
One can’t expect the current generation of protesters to have any real understanding of Robin Hood, as the study of great literary characters would take time out from our present-day public school curriculum of “Green Awareness” and “Red Ribbon Weeks.” At least our children are learning their colors.
Recently, it’s been popular for those prejudiced against people who earn a living to glorify Robin Hood’s big-government strategy of taking from the rich to give to the poor. Imagine an individual who targets those he does not like and does not find worthy of success. He then justifies taking from those undesirables to give to more noble individuals, whom he just so happens to like more. Sound like any political party you know?
It’s just so — politically expedient. Like when Nancy Pelosi got waivers for businesses in her district so they would not have to get involved in the coming fiasco better known as Obamacare. Or when Barack Obama recently announced a plan for making student loan debt a taxpayer problem so he could hand out a few dollars to a group of people who supported him in the last election. Or how a number of sitting politicians seemed to make money on insider financial information that they learned through their special access as office holders, according to CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
But that isn’t what Robin Hood did.
The hard-working people of Nottingham were impoverished by the harsh tax policies of the petulant Prince John, which were carried out by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham with the help of cowardly noblemen. The people were thrown out of their homes for being unable to pay the outrageous taxes and told that they could not eat the food available to them, the roaming deer, because even that was under the control of the king.
As more and more Americans are forced out of their homes through failures of government policy and burdened by government’s appetite for their money, it’s not hard to see some parallels between Nottingham and contemporary America. And one need look no further than the halls of Congress to see men and women explaining why nothing can be done about it.
Meanwhile, unable or unwilling to tackle the federal budget, debt or taxes, lawmakers turn their valuable attention to light bulbs and hamburgers. From the office of the first lady on down, Americans are harassed over the very food they eat. What is it with politicians — medieval and present-day — and their obsession with what others eat?
Some politicians want to tax drinks containing sugar and other such foreign materials. In fact, the august New York Times lauded the fact that at least 30 cities and states have considered a tax on soda or all sugar-sweetened drinks. The taxes are heralded as proper social engineering, a way to force people to make healthier choices by making bad behavior costly. This would ring more true if taxes were waived on healthy foods, since poking people in the wallet to achieve proper social engineering is such a popular federal justification. If taxing sugar is good, why isn’t taxing vegetables bad?
In most of the legends, Robin Hood took from the tax collectors the money that belonged to the people who had worked for it. And then, he returned it. You could say it was a middle-class tax cut for the Middle Ages.
He arose as a champion of the men and women who had earned the money and a scourge of corrupt politicians who robbed their fellow citizens and abused their high offices. He wasn’t a thief, redistributing wealth. He was an anti-tax hero.
He didn’t choose favorites among his fellow men and women. He returned the money to the people to whom it rightfully belonged. He understood that taxes could not be justified by the mere fact that a politician said, “It’s mine.” He didn’t discriminate against the people who made the money in favor of those who simply wanted the money.
In the next GOP debates, as candidates posture to look the most like Ronald Reagan (a worthy goal), I hope they will consider emulating Robin Hood through concrete policies that return to hard-working people the money that is rightfully theirs.
Robin Hood for president. Who’s with me?
Kristi Stone Hamrick is a media consultant.