Obama vs Romney: Mitt Romney 47 Percent Tapes Are Class Warfare

On Monday, Mother Jones acquired a video of Mitt Romney at a donor event. Romney is speaking behind closed doors to a group of wealthy individuals while being secretively recorded. Romney could not have been more clear, he loathes million of Americans categorizing them as lazy, cheaters, and entitled. He has effectively engaged in class warfare.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what …These are people who pay no income tax.” 

Let’s unpack this statement before we move on to the bigger implications. First let’s understand who the 47% are. Nearly half of the people who don’t pay income tax don’t make enough. In other words they are poor. The other half receives tax breaks for various reasons, included in this latter cohort are the elderly.  What further complicates Romney’s statement is that there are various forms of taxation. The 47% figure though accurate refers only to income tax. It does not refer to payroll tax, property tax, state and local taxes, or sales tax.

Americans, Mr. Romney, are paying their taxes! Americans do not have secret accounts in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxation so they can keep more money in their bank account. Mr. Romney, Americans who do not pay income tax are either poor, or old, and possibly both. 

We have repeatedly heard that President Obama is engaging in class warfare, that when he speaks of the problems that working and middle class Americans face he is dividing our country. Is Mitt Romney not engaging in class warfare now? The 47% of Americans he claims is not his problem. They feel entitled? As if housing and food are entitlements! Romney and his wealthy friends have reduced million of Americans to dependents, pejoratively labeling them as abusers of government. 

"[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney could not be more out of touch with millions of people. The sad part is he will never understand it. What this also reveals is the cornerstone of conservative ideology; that vast numbers of Americans simply have no personal responsibility. That if they are poor and hungry it is because they have not taken responsibility for their own actions. Implied in his argument is that these lower classes lack the work ethic that people like Romney have. This is class warfare at its best. Class warfare is standing from a position of privilege and believing that anyone who has not reached your position is just, to, damn, lazy. Romney’s elitism could not come across more clearly. 

Romney is now saying he simply meant that he will never get the votes of some people; they will forever be Obama voters. We, Mr. Romney, are not dumb. Your claim’s implication is much larger than that. You believe the 47% feel entitled, that you will “never convince them to take personal responsibility.” You could not have been more honest about what you feel for middle class Americans.

Not only is Romney engaging in class warfare he is also a racist: "Had [my father] been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this." Was that supposed to be a joke? You should get a better writer? Oh wait, no one wrote that one, you were all on your own.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Mateus Baptista

Mateus is a student at Brown University where he studies International Relations. He is particularly interested in issues of social justice and economic inequality.

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