Mitt Romney doesn’t care about the working class. I’m not going for a Kanye West moment, although I will defend Kanye West until my dying breath. In fact, I’m practically quoting the Republican nominee himself.
On Sept.17, “Mother Jones,” a progressive magazine that’s known for investigative reporting, leaked a video of Romney speaking at a private party for his more generous donors, in which he said the following:
“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’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”
If this quote doesn’t stir you at all, stop and consider that it was followed with this: “[My} job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
This would make a great sound bite, if it weren’t for facts. Romney thinks his job, as a candidate for president, is not to worry about people who don’t pay income tax. Who exactly are those people, though? According to information from the Tax Policy Center, approximately half of that 47 percent are people whose incomes are below $30,000 and who wouldn’t owe more after standard deductions and exemptions.
That half would not only include struggling families, but also plenty of the unemployed people that Romney would allegedly create 12 million new jobs for, if elected. It also includes a lot of college students, a group who largely doesn’t have a steady, taxable income. The other half consists of people who have been given tax credits or cuts that offset the income tax, primarily composed of senior citizens and parents with low incomes.
These are not people who don’t pay any taxes. These are not even people who will never pay an income tax, because financial situations are hardly permanent states of being. These are Americans who are struggling to make ends meet and who are paying what they owe. To call them irresponsible is not only insulting, it is clearly out of touch with the realities of the average American.
This is a side of Romney that critics have always assumed existed but hasn’t been completely exposed until now, a side that those in Obama’s camp have been eagerly waiting to see. The Romney in this video seems to come straight out of a political cartoon, drinking champagne with his friends and making fun of poor people.
He even makes an uncomfortable joke about race, saying of his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this,” which makes me wonder whether Romney realizes how many rich, white men have been president prior to Obama. These are not the words of a future president of the United States, or, at the very least, they shouldn’t be. If anything, these are the words of someone who can see his campaign slipping and is desperately seeking votes, the words of a politician and not a world leader.
In public, he’ll say whatever is necessary to appeal to the widest base of republican voters, many of whom fall in that 47 percent of people who Romney thinks are leeching off the government and not paying their dues. In private, with people of similar means and similar ideologies that have already promised their vote, he’ll say how he really feels.
Now that we can see this distinction, it’s up to voters to decide which version of Romney they’re going to listen to come November. I just hope they pay more attention to the one who says he’s given up hope for half the country.