At the outset of the 2012 presidential race, Republican candidate Mitt Romney touted his private sector leadership of the private equity firm Bain Capital. As this election unfolded, Romney’s Bain Capital story became less of a narrative he could run on and more of a narrative he had to run from. Why did this Bain Capital story, a story about someone’s success in the free marketplace in a society that seemingly values such success, become so troubling for the Romney campaign? This question constitutes the centerpiece of the present essay. In addressing this question, we argue that the Bain Capital narrative’s role in the 2012 presidential race divulges a great deal about the fundamental nature of economic discourse in American democracy. Specifically, we contend that the economic narratives circulating in American democracy actually construct a tale of two economies—a tangible economy and a speculative economy. Unfortunately for Romney, his Bain Capital narrative situated him on the wrong side of this economic divide.


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