the Romney "47%" quote -- the inaccuracy, or the insulting elitism?
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 healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.
For me, it's the latter -- the insipid, arrogant belief that every single person who votes for one of just two options is exactly alike; that we can all be simplified and neatly placed into one of just two buckets, very easy and homogenous.
To be sure, the quote is certainly inaccurate -- 46.4% of Americans may not pay income tax at the moment, true. BUT, the figure fluctuates, some of it is made up of folks who exploit loopholes, 8 out of the 10 states with the highest no-income rates are red states, and virtually everyone pays state, payroll, gas, sales, and other taxes. Then there's the hypocrisy: Romney says it's stupid to pay a dime more than you owe, and yet he gets made at folks who don't pay?
So there is all that. But what really galls me is this. If Romney truly believes that the current half of the nation who don't pay taxes has nearly 100% overlap with the half that votes for Obama, than he has even less perspective on "real America" than we realized. He honestly believes that everyone thinks the same way he does - vote for your wallet and your family, not your country. If you're voting for Obama's policies, it can't possibly because you're doing fine but think the President helps your neighbor -- no one actually votes that way! No, it's because you think you're a victim and the policies help you. Romney is really, truly saying that there is barely a single rich person in this country who wants to use government to help the poor; not a single person who votes for their neighbor rather than themselves. I find that insulting and, yes, un-American.
To be clear, I don't mean conservatives don't vote for their country. Many people, both liberal and conservative, vote the way they do because they think those policies are the best for the poor, for security, for the economy. What I'm saying is that Mitt Romney as an individual seems to tie his political views as much into his individual story as he does a larger vision of America, which is fine, but then he refuses to believe that others with different views can also have a respectable story or motivation. He puts himself first and then puts himself at the heart of America, claiming there's no room for anyone who doesn't behave the same way.
Romney is a thin-skinned jerk who has said nearly verbatim that middle income is five times the country's median income, that all parents can afford to pay for college, and that $374,000 "isn't very much". Wealth is fine, but thinking that everyone is just like him, and that if you're not it's because you're dependent and lazy, shows he really doesn't understand a) the reality of daily American life, or b) that people can react differently to their circumstances than he does his, and that they can have motivations and political values that he does not.
There's also the small matter of the next part of Romney's quote: "My job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." No man who says he doesn't have to worry about half the country's population is fit to run that country. You're not running for President of the People Who Vote For Me; you're running for President of the United States. With that quote alone, as much as with his racially-coded welfare lies and more even than with his foreign policy missteps or dozens of spineless flip flops, Mitt Romney has morally disqualified himself from ever holding any office again.
I pay income taxes - a higher percentage of my income than Mitt Romney, in fact. I'm no more dependent on the government than anyone else who drives on public roads, eats inspected food, walks in public parks, and relies on the protection of the police, fire department, and military. I'm certainly no victim. So by that standard, I'm part of the 6% of the country Romney says he cares about who also voted for Obama in 2008.
But in 2012, I'll still be voting for Barack Obama.