Romney and Hancock

To understand the presidential bid of the 70th governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s useful to remember the career of the first.

To understand the presidential bid of the 70th governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s useful to remember the career of the first.

John Hancock, like Mitt Romney, was one of the richest men of his time. Hancock had a three-story, 56-foot-wide granite mansion atop Boston’s Beacon Hill, complete with a ballroom and stables. Mr. Romney reportedly has a $12 million beachfront house in La Jolla, Calif., and a $10 million lakefront house in New Hampshire, as well as a Massachusetts townhouse. In 2009 the Romneys sold their 9,500-square-foot Utah ski house for $5 million and their Belmont, Mass., home for $3.5 million.

Hancock is a graduate of Harvard College, class of 1754; Mr. Romney graduated from Harvard Law School and Business School in 1975.

Hancock was governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785 and then again from 1787 to 1793; Mr. Romney, from 2003 to 2007.

Both men were self-made, but wealthy in part because of their family backgrounds. John Hancock’s uncle Thomas Hancock was one of the wealthiest merchants in Boston and left his business to his nephew; Mr. Romney’s father was the CEO of American Motors.

But the most illuminating similarity is the way in which, for Hancock as for Romney, wealth was a kind of two-edged sword, inspiring both admiration from voters and resentment from competing politicians. The person who thought about it perhaps most deeply was Hancock’s fellow founding father, Samuel Adams, who was both an ally of Hancock in the Revolutionary cause and a sometimes rival in Massachusetts politics.

“I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers,” Adams wrote to another Massachusetts political figure, Elbridge Gerry, on January 2, 1776. Adams was at Philadelphia then, serving in the Continental Congress with Hancock, who had been elected president of that body. The letter went on: “The giving of such a preference to riches is both dishonourable and dangerous to government. It is indeed equally dangerous to promote a man to a place of public trust only because he wants bread, but I think it is not so dishonorable for men may be influenced to the latter from the feelings of humanity, but the other argues from a base, degenerate, servile temper of the mind.”

Later, in 1783, when Hancock was governor, Adams wrote again to Gerry, this time from Boston, and with a tone of regret and concern: “So fascinating are riches in the eyes of mankind!”

In more modern times, some rich politicians, such as Michael Bloomberg, Nelson and Jay Rockefeller, and John Heinz, have found electoral success, while others, such as Al Checchi and Michael Huffington, have been rebuffed by voters. The mixed results suggest that perhaps the electorate, wittingly or not, has heeded Samuel Adams’ admonition to avoid making the candidates’ “riches or the want of them” their leading consideration.

That has not stopped Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich—the Samuel Adamses of today?—from grumbling about how Mr. Romney achieved his riches, attacks that Mr. Romney chalked up, in his New Hampshire victory speech, to “the bitter politics of envy” and “resentment of success.”

If there’s a happy ending to this story of intraparty rivalry, it’s that Hancock and Adams eventually reconciled as Hancock’s health and fortune declined. The two worked together to get Massachusetts to ratify the United States Constitution. Adams became Hancock’s lieutenant governor, and a French traveler in America in 1788 found Adams “the best supporter of the party of Governor Hancock.” When Hancock died in 1793, Adams succeeded him as governor of Massachusetts and served until 1797.

So if concern about rich politicians has a long history in American politics, so too do these resentments have a way of ebbing and flowing along with the political exigencies of the moment. Time will tell whether it will require a Hancock-style decline in Mr. Romney’s health or wealth to unite Republicans behind him, or whether it will just take the end of the primary election season.

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  • Hancock was a conman.||

    Typical founding fuhrer.

  • Cleverbot||

    You like to hide behind the veil of true reality, the system that grows.

  • Austrian v Keynesian Economics||

    I came to the realization that you can in fact boil down the two main main competing modern economic philosophies into Me First (Austrian) versus Spoiled Rotten (Keynesian). One side believes that they should be able to keep everything they "earn" and fuck the common good, while the other side believes that we should rob from the rich so that the poor can afford to go out and beat each other senseless trying to be the first to buy the latest pair of overpriced basketball shoes or mindless video game. Both sides are utterly full of shit and the mortal enemies of anyone who believes in sustainability. So from now on, the terms "Austrian" and Keynesian" will henceforth be replaced on TDS by "Me First" and "Spoiled Rotten." Because that is just the way it is.

  • romulus augustus||

    And what is the economic system you believe in?

  • Like a fucking Christian...||

    ...who thinks you have to have some religio-economic faith to believe in.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It doesn't matter what economic system you believe in; what matters is which economic system believes in you.

  • Church of the Invisible Hand||

    Say amen, put your hand on the radio.

  • Paul Revere||

    This is like the worst chat room ever.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Basement boy's economic system? He believes he will be taken into the loving arms of Mother Nature who will provide for his every need -- until he actually has an opportunity to try it. Then he expects me to apologize for not having earned a whole continent to offer for him to gambol away on. The poser grabbed for the security of his EBT card so hard he gave himself a faucet cut and couldn't troll here for weeks.

  • No EBT card, No Basement||

    You're just another Libertard Liar (yeah, it's redundant, but who cares?) who can't defend his religio-economic bullshit.

  • Me Rotten||

    Sorry, what is "TDS"?

    Besides "Tonga Defense Services", I mean.

  • tarran||

    Temporary Duty Station?
    Tangible Drool Syndrome?
    Trained Deranged Simian?
    Timorous Dripping Skunk?
    Taxable Drapery Schedule

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Best read it like a vanity plate, "tedious."

  • Austrian v Keynesian Economics||

    The Downward Spiral
    A Requiem for the American Dream
    http://billhicksisdead.blogspo.....oiled.html

  • ||

    Terminal Dumbass Syndrome.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    One side believes that they should be able to keep everything they "earn" and fuck the common good, while the other side believes that we should rob from the rich so that the poor can afford to go out and beat each other senseless trying to be the first to buy the latest pair of overpriced basketball shoes or mindless video game.

    Straw futures are trading like crazy right now.

  • Austrian v Keynesian Economics||

    You'd know.

  • Sevo||

    "Because that is just the way it is."
    Naah. It's because you're an ignoramus.

  • Austrian v Keynesian Economics||

    Don't be a fucking crybaby, Sevo.

  • Sam Grove||

    Me First (Austrian)

    Who's the idiot who explained that to you?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    He's self-taught!

  • ||

    I didn't know Nihilism had a new Economic Policy? So, Austrian Vs. Keynesian Economics what your thoughts on a Central Banking System?

  • Apatheist||

    “I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers,” Adams wrote

    Well it certainly seems to be leading considerations of the public officers these days. Welfare for the rich and poor, paid for by future generations.

  • Cleverbot||

    Right.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Who the hell cares how much money a politician has?

  • Not sociopolitical hierarchs..||

    ...that's for sure.

  • Cleverbot||

    I'm not really a fan of American politics, to be honest. But then again, I'm not really a fan of British politics either.

  • ||

    Both men were self-made.

    Romney is the idiot son of a lobbyist and a CEO. He is anything but self made.

  • Bingo||

    Seriously. How the fuck can anyone label Romney "self made"?

  • ||

    He started his own company and made a shitload of money in it; he took over a disaster of an olympics and made it profitable, etc.

    Just because your dad was rich does not make you an idiot son.

  • Vake||

    Competent is different from self-made. Romney's dad was a CEO, a Governor of Michigan, and even a presidential candidate (1968). Romney had the resources to get into and attend the best schools, network with the right people, and so on. And Romney, although very successful at Bain Capital, did not necessarily "found" a business from scratch. Bain Capital was started with ex-Bain & Company employees, and with investment dollars from Bain & Company employees. This wasn't like Apple, which started in Steve Jobs' garage.

  • Vake||

    Competent is different from self-made. Romney's dad was a CEO, a Governor of Michigan, and even a presidential candidate (1968). Romney had the resources to get into and attend the best schools, network with the right people, and so on. And Romney, although very successful at Bain Capital, did not necessarily "found" a business from scratch. Bain Capital was started with ex-Bain & Company employees, and with investment dollars from Bain & Company employees. This wasn't like Apple, which started in Steve Jobs' garage.

  • Pajamas||

    I don't know if Romney is an idiot, however, if you're the son of a millionaire with deep political connections, success is a foregone conclusion, not an achievement.

  • shamalamadingdong||

    What??? You mean George W Bush is not self made?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I wouldn't trust him to make a decent grilled cheese sandwich.

  • ||

    So if your dad is rich it's impossible to be self-made? Even if you start your own company with no help from daddy?

  • ||

    Did Romney have no help from his dear old dad?

  • Cleverbot||

    Both men were self-made.

    Romney is the idiot son of a lobbyist and a CEO. He is anything but self made.

  • ||

    Lobbyist, CEO and Governor of Michigan.

  • ||

    So Romney was both an evil heartless vulture capitalist who profited from the suffering of others and.... just inherited everything from dad.

    Choose a narrative and stick with it, OK? I mean, neither of these is supported by the facts, but at least start with internal consistency, and we'll worry about accuracy later.

  • ||

    I guess John Hancock is an idiot son too:

    After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock. Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, and fish. Thomas Hancock's highly successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several servants and slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill. The couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life.

    Thomas Jefferson too!

    The third of ten children, Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 into the Randolph family that linked him to some of the most prominent individuals in Virginia. His mother was Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph of Dungeness, a ship's captain and sometime planter, first cousin to Peyton Randolph, and granddaughter of wealthy English and Scottish gentry. Jefferson's father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and major slaveholder, and a surveyor in Albemarle County (Shadwell, then Edge Hill, Virginia). He was of possible Welsh descent, although this remains unclear. When Colonel William Randolph, an old friend of Peter Jefferson, died in 1745, Peter assumed executorship and personal charge of William Randolph's estate in Tuckahoe as well as his infant son, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. That year the Jeffersons relocated to Tuckahoe, where they would remain for the next seven years before returning to their home in Albemarle in 1752. Peter Jefferson was appointed to the colonelcy of the county, an important position at the time. After he died in 1757, his son Thomas Jefferson inherited his estate, including about 50 slaves. They comprised the core of his labor force when he started to build Monticello as a young man.
  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Newt Gingrich questioning how anyone makes money is ridiculous. He has never made an honest dollar.

  • romulus augustus||

    He wrote a couple books which, one assumes, were not plagiarized.

  • ||

    Regarding Romney's residences, does anyone else remember the mini-kerfuffle last summer over where he was really a resident, CA or MA? (Daily Kos covered it here.) It seems like the resolution was just: oops, too late to talk about this? And it's not just voter fraud, it is most likely tax fraud too. You don't just get to pick where you pay state income tax.

  • Bingo||

    Dagny, you know rules like that only apply to us peons.

  • ||

    Exactly. Worrying about these kinds of issues is what Romney pays his tax accountant/lawyer for. And I don't begrudge him for that - I would love to be able to pay some very bright guy lots of money to minimize the amount I pay in taxes.

    The statist tool aspect of Romney is what I object to.

  • ||

    I agree with that for everyone except politicians (I'd be willing to extend that to gov't employees too). Be as shady on your tax return as you like while you had no hand in the shitty rules and are subject to them just like any of us schmucks.

  • ||

    That's a good point. I don't think Romney wrote/influenced much Internal Revenue Code while he was governor of MA, but any reason to be more critical of politicians is good in my book.

  • ||

    Yes, I'm sure the Massachusetts power structure in 2011 wants to do everything they can to sweep this under the rug and spare Romney any criticism.

  • tarran||

    Given the blind eye Romney turned to the rampant corruption in the legislature here, why would they give him trouble? He probably knows enough to put yet another few lifelong legislators in Leavenworth.

  • ||

    You don't just get to pick where you pay state income tax.

    You sure don't. Most states with income taxes apply them pro rata to part year residents.

  • ||

    And CA really sucks for part year residents as it uses their full year income to determine their marginal rate. Not like it's that hard to get to the top CA rate in any case, but still.

  • Apatheist||

    Obviously oppose all income taxes (and my state doesn't have them) but using full year income to determine the marginal rate seems logical to me. If State A and State B have the same progressive tax rates, a person making the same amount of money living in either state entirely would pay the same amount. Under the system you describe so would somebody who spends half of his time in each state. Using only the half year income to decide marginal rate would lead to that person paying less than someone making the same entirely in either state.

  • ||

    One of the reasons it isn't fair is for foreigners who move into that state (CA is the only one I know OTOH that does this) during the year, as they have to add in their prior non-US income.

    But to me, the fact that you earned X amount in that state is good enough for me. The tax rates are meant to be on taxable income, regardless of whether it is earned over 6 months or 12. I don't think it's any of their business what you earned before you were taxable in that jurisdiction.

  • ||

    "If State A and State B have the same progressive tax rates". Which never happens. NY wanted its pound of flesh for the whole year when I only had one paycheck there before I moved to a higher paying job in a lower tax state.

    Frack New York State.

  • Xenocles||

    You do if you're in the military. All you need is any association with the desired state, however fleeting. Several states have favorable (read: zero) income tax for military members.

  • Apatheist||

    Several states have favorable (read:zero) income tax for everybody instead of discriminating by occupation.

  • Xenocles||

    That is true. I claim residency in one of them.

  • ||

    Good point. I've also seen non-military people with relatively simple situations overall do this in connection with an overseas move. Again, to use the CA example, as long as you're really truly breaking residency, when you move overseas you if you can use a WA or TX address then buh-bye state income tax.

  • shamalamadingdong||

    I did not know that. I thought if you had, say, a vacation home in CA that your income was only taxed if you "lived" in that home more than a certain portion of the year.

  • ||

    College students who attend school year round can still vote in their home districts. It's not as simple as "where do you live most of the year".

  • ||

    I generally like Ira Stoll, but this piece seems a little... fluffy. And in comparing Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry to Samuel Adams, offensive.

  • ||

    Any article that doesn't make unprovable (and in some cases, already disproven) derogatory claims about Mitt Romney is fluffy. That seems to be the standard Reason operates by these days.

  • Hugh Akston||

    For a magazine called Mitt Romney is a libertarian now? you would think that Mitt Romney is a libertarian now? would just stop criticizing Mitt Romney and get behind his robust libertarian agenda.

  • ||

    Does that count as a "DRINK!"?

  • Yes||

    Ayn Rand wasn't a libertarian, and neither was her fictional character Hugh Akston, so yes, drink yourself to death. Both of you. Please.

  • ||

    You're not making any sense, pal. You okay?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Who says our new trolls aren't as good as Trolls Classic?

  • ||

    I think it's Mitt Romney.

  • ||

    Tulpa, the amount of energy that you spend being a contrarian could be put to much better use. Learn to play the guitar, or something; chicks dig a guy that's musical.

  • Hugh Akston||

    That's exactly why Tulpa has memorized the score to every Sondheim musical, and sings a freeform medley every time he goes out.

    It only got him some action one time, and the morning after was something that he refuses to discuss to this day.

  •  ||

    You complement each other. And not in a good way.

  • OWS VPS||

    Dream Menders: Holding on to the American Dream

    We have lost our grip on the American Dream, the corporatist and bankers are trying to snatch it out of our hands. I always felt if you kept yourself informed and made educated votes that as a society we would continue to progress. Growing up white and middleclass I knew I had a better chance at the American Dream then many, but hoped as technology made us more productive we would all share the increased prosperity. Society would become more integrated, tolerant and accepting.

    Unfortunately, the last thirty years have not turned out the way I hoped, the prosperity from our increased productivity has been stolen by a greedy few. Divisiveness and fear has become a tool of some politicians and religions to build their base.

    Never really doing more then yelling at the TV and banging my pipe wrenches, friends and family have listened to me rant for years as we continued this backwards slide. When California passed Prop. 8, I could take it no more, how could we become so hateful? It was time to take it to the streets; dragging my little one with me we took our signs and headed to City Hall.

    Then came the Tea Party, the epitome of fear based hate and divisiveness. A faux grassroots movement funded and promoted by the very people who stole our prosperity. With the help of Fox News, ALEC and others they have worked to make us less informed, less educated and more divided. They have stolen our legislative voice, bribing our politicians with campaign funds while providing them with prewritten bills to pass to further their agenda. They seem to have things pretty well wrapped up controlling our legislators, media and economy.

    Now we push back. People around the globe are standing up and being heard. As Americans saw the actions from Tunisia to Wisconsin to Wall Street they began rise up. A few months ago I stumbled upon a group of about half a dozen people through the Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream movement. They called themselves the Dream Menders with the goal of providing others the opportunity to become informed and be active. Since joining them we have grown to about a dozen core members and a Yahoo group of about 60. The core group meets every Thursday night at a local coffee house in the Valley of Heart’s Delight (aka Silicon Valley) to plan events. We were able to leverage a MoveOn call to action and rally over 100 people in support of Occupy San Jose. But we were just starting; our big event was still being planned.

    Last Monday our plans came to fruition. At the San Jose City Hall Rotunda we held the first Dream Menders rally. Our small group of amateur activists gathered over 250 people to join us. We provided them with not just talking heads, but “action tables” where they could learn about and join groups such as, Move to Amend, CA Clean Money Campaign, Occupy San Jose and PACT.

    Our list of speakers was impressive with people such as Rep. Mike Honda (CPC), Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Cindy Chavez (Working Partnership USA), Richard Hobbs (Move to Amend), Anthony Cody (Teachers Lead), Scott Myers-Lipton (Sociology Prof. SJSU) and others. Pablo Ghenis (Occupy San Jose) poked and prodded the politicians with his comments that the Occupiers goal was to be an irritant, to which Rep. Mike Honda replied he would use the Occupy movement as an excuse (or support) to push for more progressive policy. If we lead the leaders will follow.

    The event drew much attention from the media with a front page story in the local section of the Mercury News and TV coverage from most of the local and PBS stations. San Jose city council members also showed up to see what we were doing.

    We did not accomplish this by ourselves; besides the support of our families we received much help and advice from emcee Chris Wilder, Director of Valley Medical Center Foundation, and Elisabeth Handler, PRx Communication Strategists.

    As an example of the contrast between the progressive and conservative movements: As a group from Occupy San Jose arrived with their signs they were told the city would not allow signs bigger then 2’ x 2’, they proceeded to rip their signs in half and peacefully enter the rotunda. Later, as a Tea Party Patriot couple was informed of the rule the husband became enraged, tore down the notice and pushed the usher. Fellow Dream Mender Raul who happens to be a San Jose Police officer, stepped in as the usher called 911 detaining the man until police arrived. He got cited for assault…hehehe…stupid teabagger.

    Future Dream Menders events:

    Join with Move to Amend: noon, January 20th for Occupy the Courts at St. James Park across from the old courthouse where this case was heard, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.

    Letter to the Editor Writing Party: 7pm. January 26th at Willow Glen Coffee Roasting Co.

    Joining to support the Disclose Act: 7:30pm, February 9th at Willow Glen Coffee Roasting Co.

    Panel Discussions on Campaign Reform, Education and Healthcare dates TBD.

  • ||

    Wow man! That sounds really lame and boring.

    Our list of speakers was impressive with people such as Rep. Mike Honda (CPC), Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Cindy Chavez (Working Partnership USA), Richard Hobbs (Move to Amend), Anthony Cody (Teachers Lead), Scott Myers-Lipton (Sociology Prof. SJSU) and others.

    Jesus Donkeypunching Keeereist, kill me now. That sounds absolutely awful.

  • Last Son of Krypton AuH20||

    Mike Honda hit on me at the 2008 Democratic Nation Convention.

    True story.

  • ||

    "You like motorcycles, Goldie? 'Cause I hear that Hondas give the best ride. You ever ride a Honda? You want to?"

  •  ||

    I'd stop now.

  • ||

    Stop what? I thought we were havin' fun dream mending and shit.

  • ||

    Wow man! That sounds really lame and boring.

    Our list of speakers was impressive with people such as Rep. Mike Honda (CPC), Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Cindy Chavez (Working Partnership USA), Richard Hobbs (Move to Amend), Anthony Cody (Teachers Lead), Scott Myers-Lipton (Sociology Prof. SJSU) and others.

    Jesus Donkeypunching Keeereist, kill me now. That sounds absolutely awful.

  •  ||

    OK, now.

  • Lurker||

    Piss off.

  • ||

    Aww, c'mon man, don't you want to go to the "Letter to the Editor Writing Party"?

    It's 7pm-?, that's right question mark as in: We don't know when the party'll stop! Shit is going to get real. And when I say real I mean real shitty.

  •  ||

    OK, now.

  • ||

    Hey man, don't be like that. I'm just messin' with you a bit. No big deal, dude.

    I'm sure the Dream Menders have all kinds of fun stuff to do. How about petition drives, buddy? Petition drives are a blast!

    I bet you Dream Menders are a bunch of Hell Raisers. Probably have to beat the ladies off with a stick. Right, champ?

  • Metazoan||

    Is Vaginal Panty Stains Jason Godesky or some other failure of a troll?

  • R||

    tl;dr

    (too lame, didn't read)

  • Sevo||

    "Then came the Tea Party, the epitome of fear based hate and divisiveness."

    Nope.
    That would be you.

  • johnl||

    Is anybody live blogging tonight?

  • Last Son of Krypton AuH20||

    No, but we will be live drinking.

  • Bee Tagger||

    we doin this here? or will welch come riding in 30 minutes late with a debate post?

  • The Ghost of John Hancock||

    Here. Whose blog is this, after all?

  • Scruffy the Janitor||

    Yeah no kidding, is there going to be a debate thread or not? Get off your lazy butts reasonistas and make me my double espresso debate latte!!!

  • Mitt Romney||

    Let's get this Party started!

    (Get it?)

  • Bee Tagger||

    I can thank the debates for reminding why I don't watch O'Reilly.

  • Bill O'Reilly||

    I'm gone. It's safe to come out now.

  • Scruffy the Janitor||

    He is very charming with the mute on

  • Bee Tagger||

    We get it Baier, you look like a football player. No need to shoehorn "tackling" into your comments.

  • Joe M||

    You can't fool me. That's obviously Ben Bernanke.

  • Bee Tagger||

    In honor of the The Artist, this debate will be silent.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Fox gave Juan Williams the Han solo treatment, I see.

  • The Ghost of MLK, Sr.||

    OK, that's funny!

  • Bee Tagger||

    Can someone in the audience yell "hashtag dodge" for me?

  • Dem Bonez||

    Raising questions is racist!

  • Sally ||

    Unfortunately, Romney's record is 33rpm.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, for pete's sake! Is there *another* mouthing-platitudes session on tonight?

  • ||

    Should be interesting to see how that all works out. Wow.

    www.anon-vpn.tk

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