This started because, to my surprise, I kept seeing my Facebook friends "liking" Mitt Romney. Well, not totally to my surprise-I knew there would be a few-but some of them were a surprise. If you came here from Facebook, I know you (at least a little), I like you, and we probably have a lot of shared experiences in one way or another, so how are we seeing this thing so differently? I want to ask "What are you thinking???" but that tone generally doesn't engender useful conversation, and I'm tired of all the political posts that are popping up everywhere, mostly to the tune of "If you support [the other guy] you're an idiot! Sorry if you don't like my opinions, but it's a free country and I can say all the vitriolic, non-constructive, name-calling things that I want to. Don't forget to go to the polls on Nov. 6th! (Unless you're voting for the other guy-LOL!) Also, my football team RULES!!!"
So, I wanted to take the time to explain why I feel the way that I feel. I don't really expect to change anybody's mind, but if there's anybody out there who's still on the fence, or who isn't interested in voting for their own sake, I do hope that I can help convince you to vote on behalf of me, your fellow American. Even if I don't, even if you know right here and now that there is NO WAY that is going to happen, I hope you'll still read, so that you at least understand where I'm coming from. And I do hope you'll comment to explain your side of things or to ask me questions. I just ask that if you're going to comment, you read all the way through to the end before doing so and keep everything civil, relevant, and thoughtful.
OK, so by now most of us have heard about Mitt Romney's infamous 47% comment, about how 47% of the population doesn't pay income taxes, they are a bunch of moochers, and it's not his job to care about them. There are a couple things about this that have upset people. First, that not paying income tax automatically makes you a freeloading moocher, and, second, that it's not Mitt Romney's job to care about these people.
I found the video, including all the bits we haven't been seeing in the media, and, as I suspected might be the case, Romney doesn't actually seem to be saying that it's not his job to care about these people, period, just that it's not his job to care about wooing them in this election cycle because they have all already made up their minds and are not likely to change. At first this made me feel a little better. At least he's not saying that, as President, it wouldn't be his job to care for these people who make up nearly half of the country...but then I thought about it some more and it still pissed me off. So, before we go any further, here is the clip, in its unedited version (unedited clip...is that an oxymoron? Well, you all know what I mean). I'll reprint the text below to make it easier to reference.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean the president starts off with 48, 49...he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not."
OK, fine, I get that you have to pick your battles, and I'm sure he's right that there is a certain segment of the population that wouldn't vote for him "no matter what." I am going to vote for Obama, but it has nothing to do with my feeling that I'm entitled to basic survival necessities like food or medical care. It's because, after some thoughtful consideration, which apparently Mitt believes only Independents to be capable of, I absolutely cannot support certain things that the Republican party stands for. So, way to reach out to any Democrats who may be disenchanted with their party and looking to make a change, Mitt.
But let's get to the real issue here. As an American, is it really that audacious to think that you have a right to food, housing, and medical care. I'm not saying that everybody should just get these things for free (and maybe that's where this whole argument falls apart, maybe it's a problem of sematics-so let me clarify. If you have never had a job, never intend to have a job, are not independently wealthy, and honestly believe that there should be no expectation for you to work for your food or your housing, that the government should just give these things to you for free, then yes, I agree with Mitt on this one; but, honestly, I think the people who make up that segment of the population are pretty rare, definitely not 47% of the population), but if you lose your job, if you are laid up with an illness or an injury, are you just expected to get out of the way and die if you can't afford food or medical care or shelter? What was it that Ebenezer Scrooge said about decreasing the surplus population? Oh yeah, basically, that they should just die already.
If this is how Romney really feels about all the people that don't pay income taxes (that they're useless drains on society, not that they should just die already, that's just hyperbole...I hope), then I have to take issue because I know a lot of those people, and I bet you do too.
Since news of this 47% statement came out, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not the number is accurate, and, if so, just who is this 47% exactly? To the first point, everyone seems to agree that the number itself is about right, but according to the Tax Policy Center, that includes people who pay income taxes but then end up getting a tax refund, not just people who never pay any income taxes. So if you've ever gotten a tax refund (woo-hoo!), you might just be one of the loser government dependents that Romney doesn't want to waste his time on (oh. Boooo!).
My in-laws had thirteen children. I know at one point my mother-in-law worked in the commissary; beyond that I don't know what she did, but I know she worked all her life to put food on the table for her family. She is Catholic and believes with all her heart that her sole purpose as a woman on this earth was to bear children. That's something I know the Republican party can get behind. My father-in-law retired from the Air Force as a Staff Sergeant after serving in Korea and Viet Nam. Despite the fact that they both worked full time, they had to rely on welfare to get by for a good portion of their lives-with thirteen kids, how could you not? I don't know how my in-laws felt about their entitlement to food, but I'm pretty sure that they felt like their kids were entitled to it. My father-in-law has passed away, and my mother-in-law now lives on Social Security and I doubt she makes enough to have to pay any income tax. I'm pretty sure that she is going to vote Republican, even though she clearly falls into that category of folks that Mitt Romney considers to be nothing but a parasitic drain on our society.
Oh, and all those welfare kids that my in-laws had? They all graduated high school (that was my mother-in-law's other stated mission in life), most, if not all of them, went to college (come on, there were thirteen! I don't know everyone's history). Four of them served in the military, and out of thirteen, I can tell you with certainty that at least ten of the thirteen are either a small-business owner, gainfully employed, or retired-the other three I'm honestly not sure about-two have medical issues, and I've never met the other one. I don't know how Mitt would look at this, but I think he'd be pretty proud of all of these people that were dependent upon the government for most or all of their childhoods. Looking at it from a business standpoint, I think they were a pretty good investment.
My grandfather is almost 96-years-old, and he worked all his life as a carpenter until he retired at 65. He helped build Tripler Army Medical Center and the Air Force Academy Chapel among other things. He and my grandmother have lived in the house that he built for almost 60 years. They don't have any debt, but they do rely on their Social Security and his carpenter's pension as well as Medicare to get by. They also don't make enough money to have to pay income taxes. Due to medical reasons, my grandpa had to move into a care facility last year, but thankfully Medicare is covering these costs. I don't think either of them will be voting in this election, but if they did, I can tell you that my Grandpa, for damn sure, would NOT be voting for Obama despite the fact that he and my grandma both have shelter, are able to receive necessary medical care, and they can still afford to feed themselves thanks, in part, to the tax-free money they receive from the government.
What about the military? They tend to provide a fairly strong Republican base, but apparently they are also providing a growing Independent base-seems like this might be exactly the group that Romney would like to talk to. Although...they actually ARE entitled to housing (or a housing allowance) and health care under our current system. To some extent, I guess you could say they are entitled to food too. Along with a Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), they receive commissary privileges which often allow them to pay lower prices for food than they would find on the economy without paying sales tax. Seems like they might actually be the epitome of this 47 percent who are dependent upon government, who believe they are entitled to health care, food, and housing, who often ARE actual victims-victims of sniper attacks, suicide bombers, IEDs-not to mention recipients of tax-free pay for working in a combat zone. Are they the ones whom Mitt Romny will never be able to convince to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives"? When are they going to quit acting like victims (I mean, how much medical care do you need when you get your leg blown off? You've got another one. Oh, you don't? And exactly how much disability pay are you going to expect for that?)
The reason people are going to vote for Obama "no matter what" is because Romney keeps saying crap like this. I understand that he didn't mean to indicate that it wasn't his job to care about these people, but that's exactly what he did, and the fact that he doesn't seem to realize it or doesn't seem to think that he's off base is what makes people like me not want to vote for him. The fact of the matter is, that if he is elected President, it will be his job to care about all his citizens, not just the ones who voted for him.
Are there people who take advantage of systems like disability, food assistance, worker's comp., etc.? Of course there are, and there always will be. But, generally speaking, the people who genuinely need the help the worst are the people who really are often reluctant to take it. Most people I know would rather earn what they get, but if they find themselves in a place where they need help, they are grateful to have it.
Are there systems in place that are inefficient, ineffective, or redundant? I'm sure there are, I'm sure there are changes and cuts that need to be made to the system, but the way to get it done is not by insulting the half of the country that relies on those systems and then asking them to vote for you (or not asking them to vote for you, as the case may be).
Ooh! You know who else doesn't pay income taxes? The super wealthy. Ouch. I wonder if Romney told all of them what layabouts he thought they were as they were writing checks to fund his campaign and he was promising to keep their tax cuts in place.
So, what do you think? Just for the record, this one speech is not the reason I'm not voting for Romney, but it gives me an insight to his and, I believe, a lot of other Republicans' psyches, and the lack of compassion and consideration with which they are willing to make their decisions. I have other posts planned for the topics which are the reasons, and I hope you'll join me for those too.
For a girl who doesn't like talking politics, how's that for jumping feet first into the fire? And this was the light-hearted, easy post.