It's been well over a week since videos of Mitt making his disgusting "47 percent" remark were released (to essentially put the last nail in the coffin of his presidential bid) and a few days after he hypocritically suggested that every American has access to health care through the emergency room. Those comments, aside from highlighting Mitt's tin ear regarding the plight of a near-majority of Americans, show the mean-spirited contempt that the Right has nurtured towards those of us who are struggling to get by in an economy that continues widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.
When did spitting derision at the less fortunate become acceptable? In the America I grew up in (starting Kindergarten in the mid-60s), it seems to me that the general consensus was that all boats rise with the tide and, if some of us were sinking, it was our responsibility to throw them a rope. While Americans fought pitched battles over civil rights and the morality of war, the notion that our country could and would eliminate poverty was largely non-controversial.
While it's easy to point to the "Gordon Gecko" greed mentality fostered during the Reagan years as the dawn of poor-hating (or his chimerical "welfare queen" invention during the 1976 primaries), I can't remember the kind of vitriol expressed towards those in need until this election. Yes, shitsacks like Neil Boortz, Ann Coulter and other Right-wing gasbags have long appropriated the execrable language of Ayn Rand in their vacuous diatribes ("moochers" versus "producers") but pretty much everyone looked at the those voices as howls from the extreme fringe. However, Romney's election bid has taken an ugly turn in seeking to marginalize those of us who are "dependent."
(More below the fold)
This story perfectly illustrates the kind of hatred, selfishness and pathological dipshittery that Romney/Ryan have tapped into:
A Warner Robins woman wants an apology from a Kroger manager who she says disparaged her for using food stamps to pay for her groceries.
Cindy Nerger spends 12 hours on dialysis every day. She's been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for five years. She's the caregiver for the grandmother who raised her.
Since Nerger can't work, the family relies on her husband's income, but he works only part-time so he can help her.
"He told me I owed him 10 dollars and some change. I am not exactly sure what it was, but I told him, I said I am sorry sir, but there is nothing in my cart that is not covered by food stamps," said Nerger.
She and the Kroger employees went back and forth about this for half an hour when a manager acknowledged was right about the purchase all along.
"I was upset, so, I was like, you know, I told you that it was covered under food stamps, you know, so, there was no need for all of this, you know, and he said, "Well excuse me that I work for a living and don't rely on food stamps like you," Nerger said.
With (very) few exceptions, almost no one likes using food stamps, preferring instead to work for wages that not only would disqualify them for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, i.e. "food stamps") but would also require them to pay income taxes. Shit, just ask almost anyone who gets a yearly Earned Income or Child Income Credit if, a job was available that paid enough to disqualify them for those tax breaks, would they take it and the answer would be a resounding, "Hell, yeah!"
It's specious to suggest that anyone chooses to be poor (unless they're some kind of religious ascetic); this is where the term "American Dream" was coined, after all. Those 47-percenters that Romney dismissed with arrogance and condescension aren't dependent because they want to be. But thank God there's a safety net in place that allows that 47 percent to get their most basic needs met (sans health care, for the most part).
Yet, suckhole Rush Limbaugh said yesterday that, ""23 Million people aren't working but they're eating and they're using their cell phones," implying that, I dunno, those people are living the high life on Easy Street, what with all that food they're scarfing while holding onto those phones that might just ring with a job offer.
Likewise yesterday, human colostomy bag Lars Larson said, "I'm sure (Obama) is leading in the Food Stamp user's poll," sneeringly suggesting that only the "moochers" would vote for a deadender socialist like Barack Obama.
Tragically, I don't see that same kind of contempt for the banksters who, through greed and incompetence, royally fucked the world economy, then turned around and awarded themselves Billions in bonuses out of the tax dollars we (grudgingly) awarded them. The Right has been almost entirely silent on the welfare awarded to corporations (even Bain was the recipient of that largess) even though that amount was almost double what was doled out in all social welfare programs (according to a recent study done for amounts provided in 2006).
In contrast, Romney/Ryan have successfully ridden the coat tails of a Right-wing culture of victimization, where the 1 percent is butt hurt about their hard-earned money going to support things like education, roads, water systems, defense and the programs needed to help supplement the incomes of workers the "job creators" steadfastly refuse to provide a livable wage for. (that culture of victimization has also taken hold with the Christian Right with their imaginary "Christians are being persecuted in America" canard). In that, Romney and Ryan have loosed the dogs of hard working Americans rabid with the delusion that their wages are going to support "undeserving lazy people."
It's a trope that the Right has worked hard to cultivate and refine, finally finding its full-throated voice in this election.
Fortunately, it's a strategy that I believe will backfire, as most Americans still believe in the country that I grew up in, one that, as The Boss said, "We take care of our own."
As I said, there was a time I can remember when Americans, rich and poor, saw this country as a place where, if we all succeeded, we could legitimately lay claim to our exceptionalism -- the richest country in the world where all citizens thrive and prosper.
When I look at this graph:
It's easy to see where that ideal went wrong. I sincerely hope that this election is pivotal in returning us to the America that was my source of pride as a child. A country where we don't disparage and humiliate those of us who need a hand up to rise with the rest of the boats.
Cross posted at The Firebird Suite where I blog about parenting, politics and not being thrilled about living in Phoenix.