I am really not surprised by most things that politicians say anymore. But this morning, even I was shocked by Mitt Romney's comments about "the 47 percent." A few of the zingers that really got to me included:
"There are 47 percent...who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them..."[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
When Romney speaks about the "47 percent," I know exactly who he is talking about. He is referring to the people I grew up with and the customers of our auto shop.
My name is Alfredo Quintana, I am the son of Cuban immigrants who came here in the '60s and '70s and worked every day to make a better life for us. Our family owns an auto shop and a gas station in Miami Lakes. My parents are traditional die hard Cuban American Republicans.
Don't get me wrong -- our family business is doing fine. Even though we have struggled a little bit, we have been far luckier than a lot of our friends and customers. A lot of our customers used to have jobs and now they don't, they used to be able to pay their bills and now they can't. They used to have homes and have now lost them to foreclosure. But our family has never... ever... said, "Our job is not to worry about those people." Whenever possible we would offer discounts and payment plans to our customers that couldn't pay us. In our minds we know what it is to struggle and we know that we are all in this together.
On my own time last year, I joined the Occupy Movement. I was tired of seeing the inequality and struggle all around me. The people I saw struggling in my community and in my family's shop weren't lazy and didn't want to be dependent on the government. I can't say the same for the big banks that my taxes bailed out.
I still can't believe that I woke up this morning to words from a presidential candidate who won't release his own taxes but claims 47 percent of Americans don't pay theirs. I can't believe the same candidate took money from people he feared were connected to "illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism," to start his business but he trashes families making an honest buck to survive. I really can't believe that the same candidate that used Bain Capital to shut down the profitable Dade Behring plant in Miami, gutting hundreds of well-paying jobs, would have the nerve to bad mouth anyone struggling to find work.
Don't get me wrong. I am not in the tank for Obama. In fact, I have been really critical of many of his policies. But when I was in the Occupy movement last year, some media outlets criticized us for only representing "the 99 percent." How in the world are we supposed to feel about a presidential candidate who is a real "Mr. One Percent" and who explicitly only desires representing no more than 53 percent of us?