“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the 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… My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” *
— Mitt Romney

Writing off the 47%: Unpatriotic
Appearing on the David Letterman show, Obama accused Romney of “writing off a big chunk of the country” and that Romney was wrong to suggest that “because someone doesn’t agree with me that they’re victims or unpatriotic.” “The one thing I have learnt as President is that you represent the entire country.” What is patriotic about Romney writing off the 47% and claiming he won’t be President of all Americans?

Quite apart from Romney’s clear contempt for 47% of Americans, he doubled down yet again on his contempt for facts by saying “they don’t pay taxes.” Well, for one, all those seniors getting social security and Medicare he hopes will vote for him paid payroll taxes while they were working.

And what is this whole “dependency-is-bad” screed? We are all dependent on each other. As Americans we create through our elected representatives public service institutions set up to benefit us all. Romney doesn’t want any institution that benefits Americans equally (except maybe a flat tax rate, that of course wildly benefits the very rich). In Romney world there is no sense we are in this together as Americans.

It is unpatriotic to divide America, discarding lower-income Americans as less worthy as individuals. When the sense of community is broken America is weakened.

The 47%: Disenfranchise Them!
In Romney’s view if you don’t pay taxes you don’t deserve a say in government. There is nothing in his worldview that wouldn’t fit a policy of returning to 18th century property qualifications for voting. In fact the Romney dismissal of 47% of Americans, fits perfectly with the actual drive of Republicans to disenfranchise Americans in the 2012 elections on the transparently dishonest grounds that they are safeguarding Americans from voter fraud.

In the most exhaustive study to date of voter fraud the non partisan News 21 found in its Who Votes Project that from the years 2000 to the present in the United States there were 2000 cases of voter fraud. Of that 2000 there were only 10 cases of voter impersonation- the only type of fraud photo ID requirements would catch. Given this research it is clear that the motive behind the Voter ID laws is to reduce the number of American citizens who vote, largely, if not solely, because they are assumed to vote for the Democratic Party. The disenfranchised are part of the 47% of Americans Mitt Romney feels aren’t real Americans, so why not disenfranchise them? On this theory, Democrats aren’t real Americans

You aren’t for America if you are Romney; you are for your part of America. Being patriotic means supporting American democracy. Passing laws meant to selectively disenfranchise American citizens for partisan gain weakens American democracy. It is unpatriotic.

The 47%: Is Obama one of them?
Republicans do not accept Barack Obama as their President, as American. The Senate minority leader has said the top priority of the Republican Party is to destroy and defeat the American President. That is unpatriotic.

Being patriotic means supporting American democracy. That means accepting the results of elections, participating in our democratic system of separation of powers, negotiating solutions in the necessary work of government. It means not taking pledges not to negotiate with the other party and owing fealty to non-elected political figures. Vowing obedience to a Grover Norquist no-tax-raise pledge is anti democratic. It is an insult to America. It is unpatriotic.

It deliberately weakens America in the world if the nation is urged not to stand behind its President and if policies are pursued internationally, not to strengthen America but to weaken the President. That is unpatriotic.

*Read more:


Richard Mourdock is the Republican candidate for Senate in Indiana, following his defeat of veteran Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. He is a man whose avowed mantra is never to compromise, meet in the middle, practice bi-partisanship but rather, as he said of his approach to office holding, “the highlight of politics is to inflict my opinion on someone else.” These are the words of a man with an authoritarian mindset. Mourdock is not alone. This is a clear propensity towards authoritarianism that characterizes today’s Republican party. It imbues every aspect of Republican culture and understanding of power, and it is playing out in battlegrounds of the 2012 election campaign through issues surrounding the role of Super PACS, the role of the church in politics and the role of business as a model for political leadership.

One way to look at the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited political donations by corporations, defined as “persons” with rights of free speech, is to see it as a license for corporations to “inflict” their views on others. Freedom of speech as defined in the Republican lexicon is the freedom to win and then inflict an absence of freedom on others. When Republicans use the word “freedom” think of them as saying “freedom to inflict.” Certainly that is a fair read on what another powerful institution, the current Catholic Bishops hierarchy wants to do to Obama’s Health Care Act. Its position is that religiously-affiliated hospitals or universities are legal persons whose religious freedom would be denied if they were forced to offer contraception in their health care plans. The Bishops continued their war against Obama (and women) even when Obama, seeking a principled compromise, shifted the mandate for contraception coverage to insurance companies. If the hierarchy eventually wins against Obama its “institution as person” can effectively “inflict” its views on non-Catholics, denying them contraception coverage.

In the Citizens United view of corporate personhood Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities are defined as persons whose freedom to insist on adherence to doctrinal purity must be guaranteed, whether or not they serve non-Catholics. In the debate over contraception coverage, no real individual Catholic is being denied any freedom of choice or speech. An editorial in the New York Times (5/27/12) says it best: “The First Amendment is not a license for religious entities to impose their dogma on society through the law… The First Amendment also does not exempt religious entities or individuals claiming a sincere religious objection from neutral laws of general applicability, a category the new contraception rule plainly fits… This is a clear partisan play. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.”