The 47%

I’ve been silent awhile on the blog, dealing with some changes in life, and I have still been paying some attention to the world of politics. I watched most of the conventions and don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been written. I have noted that Mitt Romney, by his own standards, has shown both himself and his VP pick to be unqualified to be president. Romney has said that to be qualified to be president you have to have run your own business in the private sector. And of course Paul Ryan has spent pretty much his whole working life in congress or working for congressmen, always inside the beltway, far from the private sector, far from running his own business. (To borrow from RNC chair Reince Priebus, one could wonder if Mr. Ryan has seen the inside of a lemonade stand.) And Mitt Romney said just a few months ago that he has paid all the taxes required by law and that if he had paid more than what was required he wouldn’t be qualified to be president. And now of course he has released his 2011 tax return and we’ve learned that he indeed paid more tax than required by law, as he deducted only part of his contribution to the Mormon Church, so that his rate would remain above 13%, making retroactively true that he has paid more than 13%. Sheesh. So I guess Mitt doesn’t think he’s qualified to be president. Or he thinks (and he’s wrong about this) that there are enough voters in the Fox bubble who will never hear or understand this and he can just get away with constantly twisting himself into a pretzel. It was great watching Chris Hayes on MSNBC laughing out loud imagining the day after Mitt loses the election and files an amended return, suddenly deducting his whole contribution to the church, which would result in him getting a tax refund of about $250,000. Yeah, Mitt can relate to me. Sure.
Of course, the big gaff, the one that many pundits, even some conservatives, think may have cost him the election, was the clandestine video showing him throwing 47% of the country under the bus, saying those people would never vote for them and he doesn’t have to try for their vote. Romney was rightly trashed by all sides for that; presidents should try to be president of and represent the entire country. What I found puzzling in the coverage of the story and the backlash, though, is that I saw no one, from any side of the political spectrum, point out the obvious truth. What Mitt said was untrue, in this way: Many of the people in that 47%–who, yes, Mitt was right about this, really have no reason to vote for him–many of them will be voting for Romney. You know some, I know some. We’re related to some, we work with some. A year or so ago we were talking about a big study and survey that showed huge percentages of people who have been helped by government social programs believe they have never been helped or gotten anything from the government. (Most famously and idiotically of course–and also hilariously–is the clip of the Hannity show with Craig T. Nelson as his guest, saying, “Look at me. I’ve been on welfare, I’ve been on food stamps. Anybody ever help me? No.” Way to pull yourself up by those bootstraps Craig.)
So, just as some polls show that as much as 10% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% (and as many as one in four of us believe we’re in the top 10%), it is surely equally true that some percentage–who knows, maybe as many as half–of that 47% don’t really believe they are part of that 47%, and will vote for Mitt Romney. (By believe they are part of that 47% I mean believe they have every been helped by the government, not believe that they are worthless parasites, as Mitt essentially called us). I think the outrage came because it is thought that some of those people, a few anyway, and enough to decidedly swing the election, will change their minds and now not vote for Romney and either stay home or vote for Obama.
The other greater truth is that while Obama cares about ordinary Americans and Romney does not, the money in our politics has so twisted our system that it has ensured no matter who is in the White House the powers of government will do much more to benefit the very top than the majority of Americans. For the very top are now their only constituents who matter, as they are the ones who have financed the campaigns, and the secret Super Pacs.
In truth though, I think Mitt was far too easy on himself. If people really knew, I doubt it would be 47% of the people would never vote for him or have reason to support him. It would be much closer to 99.9%

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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