A week ago, I received a message from my friend and former flat mate Meghan, the same one who shared her story about going official on Facebook a few months back in Crossing the Rubicon. She was all fired up—but this time it was about politics—and she asked if she could write another guest post.
Obviously, I said “yes.” Meghan’s a great writer but I’d never known her to be terribly concerned about politics. Heck, I spent many a bus ride back from central London just trying to convince her to vote during the 2008 election. But times have changed… and if you’re at all ambivalent about casting your vote on November 6, I hope this will change your mind.
I stay as informed as possible, but I was raised by paranoid Italians who come from even more paranoid Italians – the kind that didn’t believe in banks and kept money hidden under the mattress.
I was told that all (yes – ALL, my family is big on sweeping generalizations) politicians were slick liars in suits who only cared about themselves and their rich buddies. I came of age in the era of Clinton and Bush, and with all the pandering, posturing, and political mumbo-jumbo that assaults one’s senses in the age of the Internet, I wasn’t too inclined to disagree with my ancestors.
Something about this particular article, however, feels pivotal – and it’s not just the sweeping generalization referring to 47% of Obama’s supporters as “victims” and “entitled.” I interpret and dismiss sweeping generalizations on a daily basis – what I don’t dismiss are someone’s honest-to-God feelings.
Today I got a glimpse of the real Mitt Romney. The polish you see at the conventions is scrubbed off, and what’s left is a nice nugget into the psyche of a man, not a public figure.
And he insulted me.
No, I’m not part of that 47%. But I was raised by a middle-class mom and dad who busted their asses for everything they had. And as I know all too well, we’re all just one paycheck away from the unemployment line. This economy isn’t exactly conducive to a robust savings plan that provides a safety net for hard times.
So if unemployment runs out, and there are no jobs that can sustain you, what’s left? Poverty? Welfare? The time for judgment is not when people are in crisis.
But here’s what helped me realize that maybe I do have a political bone in my body after all; that it’s time to get that voter registration done so I can go vote for Obama.
Implicitly in his words, Mitt’s also referring to my 88-year-old grandmother – a woman who now pays no taxes. She worked on an assembly line for 70 years, paid into Social Security, and now receives a check every month from the government. She earned that check, Mitt. How dare you insult my Nana.
Nana is nobody’s victim. If Mitt took her Social Security away tomorrow, she’d go find a job and take care of herself.
Here’s what Mitt doesn’t get: my Nana isn’t a unique case. I’d say she’s a perfect example of what this country is all about, and representative of a large portion of that percentage so reviled by Mitt.
Why would someone want to lead a country if he has absolutely no use for almost half its citizens?
This thought plagued me as I gobbled up some facts on Google during lunch – recent stats have 46 million Americans living in poverty, and approximately 48% considered poor. Any way you slice it, that’s a damn shame.
I don’t think that many Americans arelazy. Every society has its leeches, whether they’re rich or poor. Entitlement knows no class.
But some people have been beaten up by the system. Circumstances and degrees vary, but I’ve met them. I know them. My family members are among them. A lot of hard-working people got royally screwed in seriously illegal ways by those big banks and corporations in the past 5 years, and only the banks and CEOs got to walk away unscathed. These people don’t need Mitt’s “victim” label, Mitt – they need and deserve help recovering what was taken right out from under them by those people you call corporations.
Even if my paranoid Italian relatives won’t go vote, I’ll do it for them, because I feel it’s my duty to stand up for them. My dad, on Social Security; my mom, who’s putting off knee surgery because she’s scared she’ll lose her job if she goes on long-term disability; my grandparents who worked their whole lives and need consistent benefits, not confusing political rhetoric.
Thank you, Mitt Romney, for telling your personal truth. It provides a lot of clarity through the haze of canned one-liners and pedantic PSAs and for better or worse, your words gave me a real reaction, strong enough to shake me out of my political stupor. I was forced to ask myself some logical questions that resulted in a logical answer: I have to vote against you; our ideals don’t match up.
We now have a lightning rod for this election. Listen, gauge your reaction, and let that be the litmus test that determines for whom you vote.