Sunday, September 23, 2012

Will the real 47% please stand up?

The nice thing about the Occupy movement's "99%" is that whether or not someone agrees with their politics, they understand that they are a part of the 99% of Americans who are not insanely wealthy.

The problem with Romney's "47%" is that many people hear the message (almost half the country is a bunch of lazy, dependent moochers), without realizing that Romney is indeed talking about them. And let me tell you, the conservatives who rely on government services other than Welfare and Food Stamps are the most vehement, foaming-at-the-mouth defenders of the "heroic job creators who are unfairly persecuted with taxes."

So I'm going to do a Jeff Foxworthy version of breaking it down for folks.
  • If you've ever been exempt from paying federal income tax because you or your spouse was deployed in the military... you might be the 47%.
  • If your itemized deductions (for business expenses, child care, housing, education, healthcare, municipal bonds, etc.) were equal to or greater than your federal tax liability... you might be the 47%.
  • If you have ever been able to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit... you might be the 47%.
  • If you have taken out federally insured student loans... you might be the 47%.
  • If you have ever attended a community college... you might be the 47%.
  • If you are retired and receiving Medicare... you might be the 47%.
  • If you are a family of 5 making $50,000 a year or less... you might be the 47%.
  • If you are a family of 4 making $45,775 a year or less... you might be the 47%.
  • If you or your spouse have ever received Unemployment or Disability ... you might be the 47%.
  • If you have a union job... you might not be part of the 47% because you receive enough wages and benefits from your employment to make ends meet, and you may even have a bit left over. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The people look like ants from up here...

When I first heard Ann Romney's attempt to relate to the hardships of average Americans by describing her and Mitt's college days living in a one room basement apartment eating their dinner off an ironing board, I dismissed the story as sheer nonsense; a flat-out fabrication to give the appearance of having struggled their way into the upper class.

But the story is apparently true, and in its truth it sheds light on exactly why the Romneys cannot even begin to relate to the struggles of the average American family, even though they honestly believe they can.

They went through the motions of being humble students who had to tighten their belts and make due, with one crucial exception. They made ends meet by selling off bits of a pile of stock that had been given to Romney by his father. To say that that one detail makes all the difference in the world is an understatement. They believe they struggled, because they went through the motions, but they never truly suffered. They can never relate to the stress of living in that basement apartment, going to school, AND WORKING at the same time. They can't relate to graduating college under a mountain of debt. They can't even relate to paying a mortgage because their first home was bought with money Romney borrowed from his dad.

The key here, and what makes them so repulsive to Americans who actually struggle to make ends meet, is  that they honestly feel like they have suffered financial hardship without having the slightest clue what financial hardship feels like.

Another example of the underlying thought process of the elites is spoken quite eloquently by one of Romney's wealthy donors in that secretly recorded meeting in one of their "quiet rooms." The wealthy donor talks about how hard they work, and how much they sacrifice for their families. They have convinced themselves that people who aren't rich just aren't working hard enough. They can't even comprehend that people all over this country are working and sacrificing just to pay the rent and put food on the table.

These people don't just live in another world, they live in a parallel universe.

What I find most revealing is how comfortable and at ease Mitt looks in the midst of his peers; far from the stiff, uncomfortable and quietly annoyed Romney we see at press conferences and in interviews. I'm sure he is genuinely frustrated by his inability to get the American people to like him, but that's because he doesn't understand that what he is experiencing is his own disdain for the American people reflected back at him.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Under God

I love the look on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's face when he's confronted with the audible vote to revise the DNC party platform to include a reference to God and Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Takes vote at DNC to restore God and Jerusalem to Platform

He clearly does not have a decisive two-thirds vote for the amendment, but the teleprompter nonetheless reads, "in the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative.”

So he tries again. And again. Three times in all. And then he proceeds to read the teleprompter.

To me, this is one of many moments in this election when I marvel at how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go. This is a beautifully complex moment in American politics, and I would hate to see it be brushed aside as a quirky mishap, though I know that it will be... as easily as that emphatic "NO!" was shrugged off by the teleprompter.

First, I want to address how the original omission of the word "god" from the DNC platform was held up by Fox News pundits as proof that the Democratic Party is "out of touch with the American people." Really? Because I'm pretty sure that convention center was filled with people who were, in fact, Americans.

Next, I want to talk about what I think that audible vote meant. I'm guessing that the vote was about 50% in the negative. That doesn't mean that 50% of those voters don't believe in God; statistically, that is unlikely. But it does mean that about 50% of the people present wanted take a stand against the necessity to include God in our politics. Fifty percent of the delegates present didn't want to snivel at the feet of conservative religious grand-standers who want to dictate which beliefs count as "American."

Lastly, I want to point out the failure of the Democratic Party to live up to the ideals put forth by our own presidential candidate who campaigns on the slogans of "Hope," "Change," and "Forward." Bowing to the religious ideology of the conservative party is more of the same old weak-kneed politics, and to take such a step in the face of clear opposition within the party ranks, is a huge step backward.

So I want to say that I am proud to support a party that is made up of such brave and freethinking citizens who answer to a higher calling than the religious constructs of our so-called leaders; and I want to say that I am disappointed in the leaders that will stand before that group of American delegates and answer instead to the call of the Almighty Teleprompter in the sky.