What happens in closed fundraisers

Jon Hanrahan

You’ve probably read about it by now. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what . . .who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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 . . . These are people who pay no income tax . . . And so my job is not to worry about those people [in reference to campaign strategy] –I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

That was Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a video released recently by media outlet Mother Jones, addressing wealthy donors in May. His statements quickly prompted a swell of discussion, disappointment and outright disdain due to the offhand way in which nearly half of the American people are written off as lazy, simple and undeserving of his consideration.

A perfect counter-example to Romney’s remarks is the Lawrence University student body. None of us attend LU because of its light workload or, frankly, its cheap tuition. A very considerable portion of our student body possesses a strong work ethic, receives federal financial aid and pays no income tax — myself included.

Are we victims? No, we just need assistance to afford our education. Is it fair to characterize us based on our lack of income tax liability? No, we are not full-time wage earners, but full-time students. Do we care for our lives in personally responsible ways? Unequivocally so.

Additionally, many of these 47 percenters are not as such due to low income alone. According National Public Radio and the Tax Policy Center, 21 percent of filers have no income tax due to benefits for the elderly. Using Romney’s logic, good ol’ granddad, who fought on Guadalcanal, started a business, raised a family, and voted Republican his whole life, is a total mooch.

One can also find, thanks to the TPC, that in 2011 there were approximately 4,000 filers with incomes over $1,000,000 who paid no income tax. Daddy Warbucks apparently can’t “take personal responsibility” and care for his life.

Though most can agree that Gov. Romney’s words were inaccurate, offensive, and “not elegantly stated” — his weak defense of the comments — he offers a possible solution to one of our nation’s top issues: the obesity crisis.

He argues that there are people who “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food,” et cetera. If Romney could enact legislation to effectively convince people that they simply do not deserve food, we would be on the ‘fast’ track to becoming a healthier nation. Perhaps Paul Ryan even could lead the nation in P90X workouts, à la “1984”!

But in all seriousness, it cannot be disputed that the video revealed a component of Romney’s belief system that could be very damaging, both for his campaign and the American people.

How can one govern when he believes that, using some math and U.S. census data, nearly 148 million of his constituents are good-for-nothing welfare queens?

If Mitt Romney sincerely believes in what he said, voters in both the 47 percent and the 53 percent will have a much more clarified choice on November 6th.