Walking my dog this afternoon brought us by a neighbor who lives a few doors down the block. We live in one of the strongest Democratic voting areas of Colorado Springs which is reputed to be in the TOP-20 most conservative voting cities in America. (It has fallen in repute from the Top-5 in 2004 to now ranked 17th after 2010 election, but alas I am splitting hairs.) Our neighbor, let me call him Steve, is a nice enough fellow, retired enjoys the visits of his older elementary aged grandchildren who visit their small backyard swimming pool making a wonderful racket on hot days. They know us as the neighborhood DEMOCRAT as I am the precinct committee person, but little does he know that the street block votes 80% blue, he thinks it is split. He is a self-proclaimed Republican and proud of it, and our neighborhood accept it as he accepts us.
Today he waited for me to pass on by in that his normally aggressive and territorial mutt-Blue Healer was inside unlike most days as he was on the porch. He wanted to talk. Walking by he quickly came down from the porch with a big smile and asked how the day was---how were my students, all things out of the unusual, though we are pleasant and compliment each of our yards in our semi-arid climate. Then he inquired whether I had heard the recordings of Romney, which I smiled saying that I had.
Him: "We are one of those 47%'ers and I am insulted, are you?"This is only an anecdote but I think this is more powerful than when McCain said that the economy's fundamentals were still sound on September 15, 2008. I truly think older traditional Republicans are embarrassed by Romney and their party. David Brooks said it best in his New York Times piece called Thurston Howell Romney:
Me: "Of course, but the idea that 47% are victims because they are not self-responsible is simply ludicrous and highly prejudicial."
Him: "Of course, all my brothers are in the 47%, we worked, saved but worked for someone else, and now we paid into Social Security and Medicare and are receiving the rewards. My pension is not taxed and am I a free loader?"
Me: "My parents on both side are in the 47%'ers as well."
Him: "How about you? My daughter is a single mother, is a teacher and has two children, her husband left her and so she hasn't paid income taxes for at least 4 years, I know because I did her taxes. She is no free loader or taker."
Me: "We are in the 47% also our two college aged children who go to the university and also are considered in the 47% but we don't vote for Obama because of the tax policy or entitlements."
Him: "We decided we are not voting for Romney either, not sure if we vote for Obama but Romney is an idiot, he reminds me of some caricature from some rich guy who is a blithering idiot."
Me: "How about Thurston Howell III?"
Him: "Yes, yes...Margaret, you won't believe who our neighbor Bob said was Romney!"
Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.So if Romney thinks or presumes he has 47% and Obama has 47% and they are fighting over the 6% in the middle he might have to recalibrate and know that his traditional base of support, those old Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan Republicans now retired and in the 47% class might walk away from Romney in droves.
The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.