There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. (Mitt Romney)
You ever work yard crew at a paper mill?
She would come home in a thick, green jumpsuit, looking like a man and smelling like sulphur. Over time, the lime on the ground scoured her toenails off and started eating into her skin until she had to quit. But that was just one job.
Mama was a lunchroom worker, a bus driver, and a waitress. She was a teacher's assistant for special-needs kids, and those needs were often excremental.
She did whatever work she could find in our poor, depressed part of the country to make sure we had enough. She stretched our dollars by wearing hand-me-down clothes (that she nonetheless insisted on paying for) and buying the cheapest groceries. Through it all, hard as it got, she did her best to retain her dignity, generosity, and good humor.
None of her jobs offered a pension, so she's retired on Social Security, which means she pays no income tax. And, because she pays no income tax, Mitt Romney says she feels entitled to free stuff from the government.
My mom: deadbeat.
I don't know about your mom, but mine has only ever felt entitled to one thing from the government. Not her daddy's money, like Romney got, and not a big federal bailout check, like his company got. All Mama ever asked for was a vote.
I'll be damned if I just go along with it while some snob calls Mama "entitled" for casting her vote any way she sees fit. Let Romney talk about your mom, if you want; I'm defending mine, no matter how she votes. (Note: "I'm voting for Obama," she says).
You ever spend much time under fire in 130-degree heat?
My friend Micah did.
In Iraq. Wartime. Enlisted Navy, which meant he didn't pay taxes on his salary while he was overseas. He saw combat, risked his life. And, as a Hospital Corpsman, he saw, over and over again, combat's horrific results. PTSD is now part of his life, maybe forever, but that hasn't stopped him from trying for a fresh start, studying political science at UCSC.
What a dependent loser.
Ever raise a family, just starting out, with no help from your parents? (Note: "We don't have it to lend, Mr. Romney," my mom says.)
My sister did.
She and her husband decided to have a baby early on, since she was worried that medical issues would make it impossible as she got older. She found an entry-level job and enrolled in college part-time, and so did her husband.
Without a lot of financial help, and with childcare and medical expenses, they qualified for government aid, which they needed and took. They took the Earned Income Tax Credit, which meant they paid no federal income tax for a few years. Even still, they barely made it.
But they made it.
Today she's a teacher, and he's got a great job in the petrochemical industry. They have wonderful children whom they are raising to be good Christians, good athletes, and good citizens.
What a bunch of entitled bottom feeders.
Most of you reading this have, at one time or another, been in that 47 percent that doesn't pay income tax. You've been poor college students, perhaps, or on disability.
Even if you haven't, you may be headed there soon, because most jobs have no pensions and most 401(k)s are underperforming. Over the course of our lives, without rich parents to rely on, many of us will drift in and out of that 47 percent that Romney so disdains. And guess what? It's OK! That's what it's there for!
As scary as some people make it sound, government isn't some shadowy figure; it's just us! Government, for all its faults, is just a big word for "community," and if people need a little temporary help from the community to make their lives better, the whole community is stronger in the long run for giving it. We all know that.
But, nonetheless, I know how this works.
With a wink and a nudge from Romney and maybe a little willing complicity from you, this dust-up will turn into a discussion of all the true parasites out there: that very small percentage that never contributes; the scary bunch down at the liquor store; the woman at Wal-Mart with all those kids.
Yes, there are parasites on the system, and some of them have Barack Obama's skin color. Most of them, however, resemble Mitt Romney, and in more ways than one.
Wherever money is moving around, there's always someone there to corrupt the system, whether it's localized welfare fraud or international bank fraud.
But in that private meeting with those billionaire donors, many of whom have made fortunes moving your money around, Mitt didn't talk about the 4.1 percent who are actually on welfare, did he?
No, he did not. He talked about the 47 percent -- my sister, my friend, my mom -- who don't pay income tax. And that audience ate it up like caviar.
So if you think Mitt Romney was really talking about deadbeats, losers, and bottom feeders, I think you're right. But to Mitt Romney and his super-rich friends, those bottom feeders, deadbeats, and losers are your mama and you.
Wayne Self is a playwright, composer, and blogger whose his essays, art, and advocacy have helped people across the political spectrum understand and model a more inclusive spirituality. He blogs on The Huffington Post and at owldolatrous.com.