Yesterday, I posted a compilation of the responses of 47-Percenters to the now infamous Romney fundraiser video, in which Mitt Romney basically writes off as lazy moochers the 47 percent of Ameiricans who don’t earn enough to owe federal income taxes. Both the Romney video and the responses from ordinary Americans show how much has changed.
Not long ago, Americans who couldn’t afford the $50,000 ticket price would never have heard Romney’s remarks to Florida donors. (Nor would “the help” — the invisible ordinary Americans in the room — have been able to bring those words to wider notice.) We would have heard from Mitt Romney only what his campaign wanted us to hear. Nor would those Americans have had a chance to “speak truth to power,” in the growing number of responses to Romney’s rhetoric.
To quote Moms Mabley: things sure ain’t what they use to be, and I’m damn glad; because now we can hear Sara Zacharias. Today, nobody is “speaking truth to power” (in the person of one Willard Mitt Romney) louder than her.
Zacharias, like millions of Americans, heard the speech Mitt Romney intended only for the ears of his fellow one-percenters, and posted “An Open Letter to Mitt Romney” on her aptly-named blog “The Bucking Jenny,” as well as a video on YouTube. Here’s the video and an excerpt of her post.
Dear Candidate Romney,
I saw you. I saw your video.
I saw you speaking candidly and off the cuff about me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that you didn’t mention me by name or anything, but we both know you were talking about me.
When you were talking of 47% of the population that is never going to vote for you because we are dependent victims who lazily live on government programs like food stamps, I can’t help but take personal offense. In fact, once you decided to lump in in anybody who is never going to vote for you, you weren’t just talking about me, but many people I love, and about 90% of the people I know.
My children eat because of food stamps, Mr. Romney. Now sir, I want you to picture a Wyoming cowgirl, a mother, a fighter, a righteous, determined, god loving woman; a Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear Mamma that would make Sarah Palin’s makeup wearing pit bull shudder. Picture me staring you in the eyes as I ask you, “What business have you got talking about me and mine like that?”
I am watching you run your Richie-rich mouth on TV right now, with your little flag lapel pin over your heart. You brag that you will bring “12 million new jobs and rising take home pay.” Quite frankly, I have no reason to believe you or your failures in arithmetic. Even if you did manage such a feat, I’d point to the 4.5 million job head start you had thanks to President Obama saving the nation from the failed GOP policies you use as a platform, which nearly caused a second great depression.
You said that you think that 47% of Americans “think they are victims” and you even said it wasn’t your job to worry about us.
First, I must argue you. I am not a victim. I have been beaten. I have been bullied. I have been raped. I have been addicted. I have been alone. I have been poor. I have been homeless. I have been sick and broken. I have chosen each and every single time to stand up and pull myself and my family out of those circumstances. I beat every one of them without any riches to aid me. I did that without any inheritance, any gifted stocks or bonds, any loans, any rich family, or any elevators for my cars. I did it because, I am not a victim. I am an American. I am the Mom in Chief of my house and nothing less than the very best that I can provide will do. I am the product of women who forded rivers to fetch the mail after working a hard day’s labor on the Laramie high plains. I am a force to be reckoned with.
If you don’t believe me, you could ask the doctor who has to take fluid from my spine on a regular basis to preserve my ability to see due to a rare disease. If you don’t believe me you can ask our Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, who personally invited me to a bill signing when I helped Washington State legislate protection for children in schools against bullying by sharing my own experiences. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my children who have seen me struggle but always, always, provide for them. Any one of these people will tell you, that this American is not a victim.
You call me entitled. I devote every day of my life to bettering the planet I live in with no hope of profit. I am sorry sir, but you calling me entitled is like the pot calling the dove black. That isn’t going to work. I challenge you to stand at my side and let the American public judge, which of us is entitled. I spend every dime of mine and my husband’s earned income as quickly as it comes in, right here in my town. Every dime I earn and spend stays in America. I am the ultimate in job creator. Who are you to challenge me?
This is the voice of an American who understands “personal responsibility” in a way Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan don’t, and perhaps never will.
Put aside the tin-eared term “those people.” When he said this, Romney didn’t just write off half the country behind closed doors. He also confirmed the worst suspicions about who he is: an entitled rich guy with no understanding of how people who aren’t rich actually live.
The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district. That’s what money buys you: goods and services that make your life easier, that give you time and space to focus on what you want to focus on.
That’s what money has bought Romney, too. He’s a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream.
The problem is living the dream has blinded him to other people’s reality. His comments evince no understanding of how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, how awful it is to choose between skipping a day on a job you can’t afford to lose and letting your sick child fend for herself. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it.
Take some time to read the whole piece. It’s worth it.
Like I said yesterday:
But what may cause serious and lasting trouble for the Romney campaign is that millions of Americans now know who Romney was talking about, behind the safety of closed doors. They know he’s talking about them and their loved ones — and they don’t like it. Not one bit.
I am picturing Sara Zacharias standing up to Mitt Romney, looking him in the eye and asking, “What business have you got talking about me and mine like that?” However, I can’t imagine Romney having the courage to face her, let alone attempt an answer like this one.
Can you? Can anybody?