In the week since the release of the recordings of Mr. Romney's meeting with the really rich people ($50,000.00 a plate rich) in which he made abundantly clear his feelings about people who don't pay income tax and/or who are on government assistance, I have read some really beautifully written columns and essays about and by that kind of person. I have fumed and stewed over his elitist, dismissive attitude about his fellow Americans who are less fortunate than he. I have heard the lies about President Obama's supposed reversal of the Welfare-to-Work program. And I have been infuriated.
In 1995, when I was preparing to adopt a second child, the husband of a good friend said, "Oh, great. You'll get another kid who's going to be stuck in day care all day." I was speechless. My goal was to build a family-to have a second child in my life, to give my daughter a sibling, and in the bargain to take a child out of public foster care (off the government support rolls, by the way). Apparently, my lack of financial resources which would result in my child needing care during the day made me less deserving of the joy of parenthood than those families, including my friend and her family, who had the financial luxury to stay at home with her kids. Which, by the way, is a choice, not a requirement, just in case you were wondering.
Said child is now grown. I am happy to report that despite our rather dire financial position when she and her sister were young and I was a single mother with a high school diploma and a good, steady job that didn't pay all that well, we all survived. I was fortunate to have resources-I had friends and advocates in my town who led me to reduced-rate day camp in the summers, and significant financial aid at our fabulous after school care program during the school year. My own family had no idea how broke we were; I know they knew I struggled, but they were unaware of my trips into the less savory parts of our city to the less expensive grocery stores where I would buy things off the "FOR IMMEDIATE SALE" rack because they were canned goods that were expiring or fresh fruit and vegetables that were, well, slightly less than fresh. I didn't tell them about the time that my older daughter and I loaded the car with cases of canned goods that had been in a warehouse flood and no longer had any labels on them. They were 5 cents a can, and every night we opened up "dinner surprise" and ate whatever it was, sitting on a blanket on the floor instead of at the kitchen table, to make it seem like a picnic. I paid my freakin' income tax with pride. I believe in income tax as a good, progressive revenue source for our country. But here's the thing. If I had lost my job, if we had had to get government assistance to live, I would have done that with pride, too, knowing that my country, the one that is the model of freedom and all that is good around the globe, would toss me the proverbial life jacket if I needed it.
And now my daughter needs it, Mitt. She is twenty. She is a mother. She is a full-time college student, struggling every single day to complete her studies, despite all odds. She has difficulty learning. She has difficulty with life, period-she bears the scars of an untold past before she was mine. Her baby's father works hard, every day, slinging boxes of canned goods in a food distribution center. When he's not at work, he's with her and their baby, doing what fathers do...changing, feeding, rocking, playing. Their rent is $300.00 a month-hardly luxurious. They are on government assistance. Younger Daughter and the baby get WIC for formula and baby food, and my daughter is on (gasp!) food stamps. She pays no income tax-she has no income. And they need the help.
And see, Mr. Romney, here's where you're wrong. Sure, they are voting for President Obama. But it wasn't a given. They are Democrats. They are my family. These two things might seem like enough to make them a slam-dunk, but they're not. If you had acted, even for a minute, as though people like my daughter and her boyfriend mattered...like you cared...people in their position might have given you a second look. Younger Daughter said to me in the car this morning, "Mom, I don't know what Romney's going to do with the middle class, but I can tell you how it seems to poor people: he doesn't care. We're on our own."
And that's the bottom line. So go on with your campaign. Give your tax cuts to the wealthy because you say that somehow, miraculously, their extra money will benefit us all. We don't need you, and you clearly don't need our votes.