In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had grown up watching Sesame Street, learning from the likes of Elmo, Count, and, of course, Big Bird.
The beloved yellow creature was mentioned during last week’s presidential debates, but the topic of discussion was not the lessons he’s taught Sesame Street’s viewers. Rather, Governor Romney pledged to cut funding from public broadcasting and put Big Bird on the chopping block. Romney’s willingness to eliminate the bird that has been a childhood fixture to so many and in actuality receives very little amounts of funding from PBS is indicative of a greater pattern in Romney’s behavior: he has done little to endear himself to a large percentage of the American population. Instead, there seems to be a divide between Romney and the average American.
This was evident during Romney’s April lecture at Otterbein University in Ohio. He suggested that students borrow money from their parents to pay for their education, seemingly indifferent to the idea that such a luxury is simply not feasible for all Americans. While Romney was able to use a stock portfolio his father had given him to support his family during his college years, many other college students are dependent on public funding.
Romney’s 47 percent comments are now infamous, and they further contribute to the divide between the candidate and the average American. He referred to a large percentage of the population as acting “entitled.”
“They should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said. He ultimately stated that his job was “not to worry about those people.” Though Romney later admitted that these comments were “completely wrong,” the damage had already been done. His earlier statement had painted a self-portrait of callousness and indifference, and that is not something easily forgotten.
Between wanting to eliminate a central childhood figure, showing an indifference to the financial realities of a college education, and referring to nearly half of the population as irresponsible and entitled, Romney has done little to make himself a relatable or even likable figure. He has shown indifference to factors that are significant to many Americans, and it will be interesting to see how this will influence his results in next month’s elections. Meanwhile, Big Bird, unsupported by Romney, continues to educate the youth of the nation.