EVERYWHERE AND HEREBy Eva-Jeanette Rawlins
47 percent don’t figure into the equation
It’s all about percentages.
For more than a year, we’ve been a country of the 99 and the 1 percent. If you count yourself among the 99 percent, you’ve proudly worn the label as a badge of honor because, heck, it sets us apart from immoral, corporate greed. If you land in the other category, it’s been easier to just not advertise the fact and hope no one notices.
However, there’s a new percentage being thrown around these days—the 47 percent.
Thanks to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, this new number now occupies our national consciousness—one whose definition he came up with all on his own. Though the details are a bit fuzzy as to whom exactly comprises this number, what we do know is that it’s not “us,” it’s “them.” “Us” being a room full of rich folks and “them” being…well, all the rest of us losers.
The secretly taped video of Romney chatting candidly with a room full of donors at a $50,000-a-plate fundraising event has circulated the Internet, print media, Twittersphere and beyond. It’s definitely cleared up any doubts about what he thinks of almost half the country. We’ve been asking for specifics from his campaign for a while; well, now we have it in his own words: “My job is not to worry about them.” The 47 percent of us, that is.
Just who is this 47 percent? In his words, they’re people who are “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That it’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.”
The man who could potentially lead our nation for the next four years has stated unequivocally that Obama voters are irrational, victimized moochers and are basically none of his concern.
He didn’t stop there. All but throwing his arms up in despair, he sighed, “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Few things make me seethe. I try to be a nice person and keep a cool head. But these comments from a candidate for the presidency of the United States made me seethe.
A president should absolutely have a strong belief system and take whatever stance he or she believes to be most effective. What a president should not, and absolutely cannot, do is dismiss everyone who doesn’t share the same principles. It’s unconscionable that Romney has—with such obvious flippancy—effectively erased half the country from his agenda.
There are numerous offensive aspects to his speech, not the least of which were his gross generalizations of Obama voters, but it would take pages of wasted energy to address them all.
What struck me most, though, was his blatant widening of the “us” and “them” chasm. I wish I could have seen his face when he said to his crowd of millionaires, “You see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans…with people who agree with us.” About the rest? “These people are people who voted for [Obama] and don’t agree with us.”
If we had any doubts about who Romney’s people are—whose backs he’s got—we shouldn’t anymore. It’s plain as day. It’s the 53 percent who think, look, talk and have the same size wallet as he does.
Maybe if he spent a little more time with “these people” who don’t agree with him, he’d see that callously writing off the 47 percent may be the biggest mistake he ever made.