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Monique Ruffin Headshot

I Am the 47 Percent

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After hearing Mitt Romney's comments about 47 percent of the American voters, I don't know how to stave off an emotional breakdown. The thought of Mitt Romney becoming our next president is so deeply disturbing to me that there are hardly any words to express my heartbreak, sorrow, and occasional bouts of fear. As an optimistic, spiritually focused citizen I continue to look for ideas within the Romney/Ryan ticket with which I might agree. My intention and desire is to be fair minded and reasonable as we approach the election. Moreover, I'd like to continue my political involvement and to help our nation heal regardless of which candidate wins the election.

In my book Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability, one of my main topics is inclusion. The book offers tools to assist citizens who desire to create a more inclusive society and culture. We start by believing in the inherent value of every person and the willingness to establish policies that support every person's empowerment, education, contribution, and happiness. In my view inclusivity is the major component needed to lift up all of us as our nation moves forward. It has been one of the most prominent and consistent qualities I have observed in President Obama since the day in 2004 when he addressed the Democratic National Convention. President Obama has made it his business to extend himself to all Americans, those who agree with him and those who do not. He began his presidency by inviting his opponents to serve in his cabinet and in major roles within his administration. President Obama extended his arm across the aisle to Republicans time and time again. Often President Obama's words and actions encourage me to believe in my ability to achieve success and extend that success to those around me.

The Romney/Ryan ticket is so deeply disturbing to me because it seems to exploit many of the issues that have divided our nation and left a large percentage of our citizenry disenfranchised. Whether they be women, immigrants, working class, poor, or nonreligious people, the Romney/Ryan ticket excludes countless citizens who contribute to the unique composition of America. These are citizens who desire to fulfill their dreams by working hard to live lives of honor while providing for their families and contributing to their communities. Mitt Romney is the presidential candidate of a party that has recently sought to oppress women and strip them of their rights to control their bodies, worked to block the rights of immigrants and gays, and has tried to systematically suppress the vote of the young, the elderly, and the poor. Sadly, Mitt Romney's words are completely congruent with the actions of his party to forward divisive and oppressive policies in America.

Mr. Romney's comments rang in my heart due to my personal experiences. Five years ago I had a son with special needs, three years ago I was divorced. And two years ago I was laid off from my job. If not for the support I have received from government agencies, my son and I might be homeless. While all these very challenging circumstances have tested my resolve, confidence, and faith, it has been my community that has helped me continue forward. One day at a time, like millions of Americans who are struggling to live their dreams and fulfill their potential, I rise to give something for my son's and my future. How can Mitt Romney create and champion policies for the millions of Americans like me? In spite of my circumstances I find ways to contribute to society; Mitt Romney is wrong that I see myself as a hopeless victim. He is out of order when he says 47 percent of the electorate feels entitled to food and housing. What we all, 100 percent of us, feel entitled to is the opportunity to thrive. In my personal struggle, I have only been grateful that during the most difficult season of my life, this country is the one place in which I believe I can fully recover, live to tell about it, and inspire others to do the same. We are all, 100 percent of us, in this together.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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