Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Last night I said I wasn't convinced that middle-of-the-road voters would be put off by Mitt Romney's "47 percent" rant. David Frum, of all people, points to some disturbing survey results that help explain why they might not feel personally insulted:
Start with this data point:

When you ask white Americans to estimate the black population of the United States, the answer averages out at nearly 30%. Ask them to estimate the Hispanic population, and the answer averages out at 22%.

So when a politician or a broadcaster talks about 47% in "dependency," the image that swims into many white voters' minds is not their mother in Florida, her Social Security untaxed, receiving Medicare benefits vastly greater than her lifetime tax contributions; it is not their uncle, laid off after 30 years and now too old to start over. No, the image that comes into mind is minorities on welfare.
I fear that's right. I imagine that a lot of white heartland voters see the "47 percent" as THEM.

And the belief that America is increasingly becoming a mass of swarthy moochers dovetails with what Frum says in a follow-up post about widespread fears of a currently nonexistent mob:
The dread to which Romney gives voice in his Boca Raton speech -- that "makers" are about to be electorally overwhelmed by "takers" -- is a dread expressed again and again by conservative media and conservative thought-leaders. "Democracy is two lions and a lamb voting on what's for dinner": how often have we heard that old country-club quip repeated these past four years? Only this time, the quip is repeated not as a joke, but with real fear.

... what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey's army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer's fields. Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.

... From the greatest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, the rights and perquisites of wealth have emerged undiminished....

Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless! Watch the trailer of Dinesh D'Souza's new movie to glimpse into their mental universe: chanting swarthy mobs, churches and banks under attack, angry black people grabbing at other people's houses....

I say this all the time -- most recently over the weekend, in reference to a paranoid Ben Stein post, and the work of some apocalyptic filmmakers from Minnesota -- but I think a lot of right-leaning people actually take comfort in paranoid scenarios of doom. What Frum is talking about here -- the notion that mobs of angry "takers" are going to overrun the barricades -- probably makes the rich, the old, and the wingnutty feel vital and important (in the case of the rich, even more important than they already feel). It makes them feel that they're the heroes of sagas in their own heads; they're civilization's last line of defense, and possibly martyrs to civilization's cause.

As opposed to being a bunch of empathy-challenged SOBs who want the have-nots to go without for the sheer pleasure of watching them scrounge. That's not how they want to see themselves.


Raenelle said...

Regardless, the Dems should be screaming that Romney is talking class war. If it doesn't move any votes, it will keep the Repubs on the defensive. We're ahead. All we have to do is run out the clock.

Victor said...

Sadly, I agree 100% with you.

The Democrats job now is to point out that it ain't all Nigrah's and Sp*cs!

Joe and Jane Sixpack need to know that lily-white Grandma, Grand Paw, Uncle Zeb, Aunt Eunice, and little Bubba and Sissy, are part of that 47%.

Btw - here's a map of The Parasite States of America.


Looks familiar.
I wonder why that is?
I can't place it...
Maybe it'll occur to me later.

Steve M. said...

Every liberal on the Internet has posted that map, I think (except me).

I've held off because of what all those Southern states have in common: not just a lot of extremely right-wing white Republicans, but a lot of non-whites.

Tell Republicans that the "taker" states are disproportionately in the South, and they'll say, "Yeah, of course -- we have a lot of those people."

Steve M. said...

(The fact that whites run all those states will not be mentioned.)

Greg said...

Been looking for 50 years for that magic "capitalist success" button, something every single one of the 47% can or could've pushed in their brains, in order to make heaven and earth move so that they all get a piece of the pie. (cue Jeffersons theme)

Heven't found it yet. Mitt apparently has, however. How nice for him. It'll be a good consolation prize to have, after losing the election.

: smintheus :: said...

I do have to wonder how Mitt's talk of treating possible foreign crises/military disasters as a political "opportunity" for himself will play with conservatives. Here's what he said (omitting a few irrelevant phrases):

"In the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, that’s, that was the focus, so him solving that made all the difference in the world…By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."

Obviously that insight into his soul explains why Romney was so quick to use the ongoing crises in Egypt and Libya to attack the president. But it also implies something worse, that Romney doesn't real care about the Americans serving the country abroad, except in so far as the danger they face provides him with political leverage; they're pawns in his personal drama.

giantslor said...

Steve, I agree with your assessment on the "parasite states" map. I think this illustrates your point better:

Half of US social program recipients believe they "have not used a government social program"


Unknown said...

I think a lot of right-leaning people actually take comfort in paranoid scenarios of doom.

“I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am.”
- Monty Python

: smintheus :: said...

This quickie Gallup poll shows that Romney's comments are greeted very negatively by Dems and Independents both. Also, the farther down the income scale, the more turned off voters are. In the poorest group, 14% say his comments make them more likely and 42% say less likely to vote for Romney. Twice as many Independents are turned off than turned on (15 more likely/29 less likely).