My politics is no secret. Mitt Romney’s contempt for America’s poor and his vow to dismantle the health care reform that has literally saved the lives of people I know… The upcoming movie musical Les Miserables inspired me.
The naive Fantine in the book, musical, and film was an unwed mother who couldn’t afford to raise her own child. She paid a couple she believed would care well for her daughter. But as it can happen now in adoptive and foster families, the couple was abusive…but Fantine didn’t know that. She took a job in a factory to pay for her child’s care. She worked hard until rumors that she was a whore (you know, because she was an unwed mother who must clearly be not only promiscuous, but immoral) got her fired. She was told her child was sick and dying, so she sold her jewelry, the only piece of material wealth that meant anything to her. She sold her hair. She even sold her front teeth. But still, she didn’t have enough to pay for what she believed would be the medicine to save her daughter’s life. She finally gave up the last shred of her dignity and prostituted herself, only to end up beaten by the john and arrested for trying to defend herself. She ends up dying of an untreated illness, likely tuberculosis, in the company of the only stranger who took pity on her, a former convict turned successful businessman by the name of Jean Valjean.
There’s a woman who took personal responsibility after being left by the man who had taken her innocence – she knew nothing of sex or pregnancy before it happened – to try to provide the best for her child, but found nothing but scorn and shame from others, forcing her to the most desperate of measures. There were no government safety nets in pre-revolutionary France. But even though we have safety nets in place today, the people who need help still face scorn, shame, and condemnation for those who have never wanted for anything. Bad things happen to good people. People try to climb out of the hole only to get kicked in the face again by politicians like Mitt Romney who fit the definitions of “lazy” and “entitled” far better than any working class person.
And you know what? People in the United States are entitled to food, to housing, to health care.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
America is supposed to be the land of opportunity for all people. Regardless of how wealthy they are. As a civilized nation, we have a responsibility to our country’s less fortunate. If Mitt Romney’s father hadn’t received welfare back in the day, their family would never have had the opportunity to climb out of poverty for him to get where he is today. And now he spits in the face of the very thing that helped his family survive when they first moved to this country from Mexico.
I dreamed a dream where we lived in a country where we supported one another, so we could all find at least small success in whatever it is we do without fear of going hungry, losing our homes, or watching our children die because we lost our jobs and our retirement funds when some wealthy business owner decided to bankrupt the company we worked for in order to avoid paying out pensions.
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As an added bonus, here is the trailer for the upcoming film version of Les Miserables, in which Anne Hathaway as Fantine sings “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Les Miserables lyrics by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel (French lyrics), and Herbert Kretzmer (English adaptation) – No infringement is intended; Fair Use allows for commentary.