Why Romney is mistaken about the 47 percent

BY DYLAN JENNINGS ’14
Contributing Writer

If you have been paying any attention whatsoever to the news — if not, seeing as there’s a presidential election on the horizon, you’d better start — then you are probably aware of the recent controversy Mitt Romney is facing. Romney has gotten into hot water for a less-than-flattering statement during a recent fundraiser.

“There are 47 percent who are with [President Obama], who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing,” Romney uttered.

Now upon hearing such a statement, it smacks of something that Mr. Burns or Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development would have uttered instead of a presidential hopeful. However, the reason this is so shocking is not the fact that he expressed such a thing (though it was definitely something he probably wished he never spoke) but that the people he describes as the “47 percent” who are “automatically voting for President Obama,” may, in fact, not be voting for Obama.

Now this 47 percent of Americans is very likely the same 47 percent who don’t pay federal income taxes, but the ironic part is that the people who don’t pay federal income taxes aren’t normally Obama supporters. In fact, many of these same people normally support Romney and Republican candidates, which (clearly) may come as a shock to Mr. Romney.

See, those same people who don’t pay federal income taxes still pay property, sales, and payroll taxes for things like Social Security and Medicare. Twenty percent of these people are senior citizens, or as pollsters and political scientists call them, the group who votes Republican more often than not. Some of these freeloaders also are found to be people who have trouble finding work, such as disabled veterans or the mentally challenged. The rest are mostly families and citizens who don’t make enough to qualify to pay federal income taxes; the disqualifier is those who make less than 50,000 for a family of four.

I am saying all of this for a simple reason; what Romney and the majority of his party fails to recognize is this: his political base normally comes from senior citizens, those citizens who are normally part of the working poor and haven’t enrolled in higher levels of education. While this group does not make up the entire Republican Party, it makes up a sizeable chunk.

The Republican Party has become more and more beholden to corporations and the very rich and powerful. Because of this, the upper echelons of the party have become more disconnected from the majority of the party, who rely upon the government for basic survival. In many ways the Republican Party defies logic because while a good part of their voting bloc relies upon government, they continue to elect representatives who are willing to cut government and these services.

To those people who understand the bases of the respective parties, his statement, besides being crude and incorrect, represents the true irony of the Republican Party. It is a party bankrolled by the super wealthy to cut government subsidies that many registered Republicans rely upon in their daily lives. My question is, how can senior citizens who rely upon Social Security and Medicare programs that were set up by Democrats vote for Republicans? How can they vote for a candidate who would drastically change their lives, and not for the better?

If those 47-percenters and the rest of the Obama coalition vote for Obama this November, there will be a landslide election the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1964.

Questions? Email Dylan at djenning@fandm.edu.

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