I can't remember being as angry and indignant as I felt when I listened to Mitt Romney tell his $50,000-a-plate guests in a mansion in Boca Raton that nearly half of America is made up essentially of moochers and looters.
This from a man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.
This from a man who fired his immigrant gardener because, "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake."
This from a man who pays lower taxes than his secretary, and lower taxes than working Americans who pay payroll taxes and sales taxes but not income taxes.
This from a patriotic American who stashes millions in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
What does Willard Romney know of the hard work of those who make less than himself and his wealthy donors?
What does he know of the immigrant home health aide -- the closest person to an angel on earth whom I've ever met -- who spent seven years taking care of my mother as she declined into the darkness of Alzheimer's disease? When my mother could no longer speak, get out of bed or administer to her own needs, she rose at 7 in the morning to change and clean her, and she went to bed after midnight when she changed and cleaned her again. My wife, observing her 16 hours a day of work, once asked her why she did it, when no one would notice if she did less and worked less hard. Her simple answer: "But what about your mother? She would know."
And that's the answer of tens of millions of Americans who work hard for modest pay -- unseen and unheard by the Mitt Romneys of the world -- who, as Jesse Jackson once said in his memorable speech to the 1988 Democratic Conventions, "take the early bus."
Read these excerpts from that speech and then ask, what would Jesus, or Moses, or Mohammed, or Buddha say of such a man as Willard "Mitt" Romney and his donors?
Most poor people are not lazy. They are not black. They are not brown. They are mostly White and female and young. But whether White, Black or Brown, a hungry baby's belly turned inside out is the same color -- color it pain; color it hurt; color it agony.
Most poor people are not on welfare... They work hard every day.
I know. I live amongst them. I'm one of them. I know they work. I'm a witness. They catch the early bus. They work every day.
They raise other people's children. They work every day.
They clean the streets. They work every day. They drive dangerous cabs. They work every day. They change the beds you slept in in these hotels last night and can't get a union contract. They work every day.
No, no, they are not lazy! Someone must defend them because it's right, and they cannot speak for themselves. They work in hospitals. I know they do. They wipe the bodies of those who are sick with fever and pain. They empty their bedpans. They clean out their commodes. No job is beneath them, and yet when they get sick they cannot lie in the bed they made up every day. America, that is not right. We are a better Nation than that. We are a better Nation than that...
You must never stop dreaming. Dream of teachers who teach for life and not for a living. Dream of doctors who are concerned more about public health than private wealth. Dream of lawyers more concerned about justice than a judgeship. Dream of preachers who are concerned more about prophecy than profiteering. Dream on the high road with sound values...
I understand. I wasn't born in the hospital. Mama didn't have insurance. I was born in the bed at [the] house. I really do understand. Born in a three-room house, bathroom in the backyard, slop jar by the bed, no hot and cold running water. I understand. Wallpaper used for decoration? No. For a windbreaker. I understand. I'm a working person's person. That's why I understand you whether you're Black or White. I understand work. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had a shovel programmed for my hand.
My mother, a working woman. So many of the days she went to work early, with runs in her stockings. She knew better, but she wore runs in her stockings so that my brother and I could have matching socks and not be laughed at at school. I understand.
At 3 o'clock on Thanksgiving Day, we couldn't eat turkey because momma was preparing somebody else's turkey at 3 o'clock. We had to play football to entertain ourselves. And then around 6 o'clock she would get off the Alta Vista bus and we would bring up the leftovers and eat our turkey -- leftovers, the carcass, the cranberries -- around 8 o'clock at night. I really do understand...
I was born in the slum, but the slum was not born in me. And it wasn't born in you, and you can make it...
You must not surrender! You may or may not get there but just know that you're qualified! And you hold on, and hold out! We must never surrender!! America will get better and better.
Keep hope alive. Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive!
[To see a clip of Rev. Jackson's speech, click here. The "take the early bus section starts at 5:22 of the video.]