Romney's Latest Gaffe Is No Knock Out Punch

OPINION

by

Devona Walker

Many say Mitt Romney lost his bid for the White House yesterday, but I am not too sure.

A videotape was leaked to Mother Jones in which Romney admits to something many of us already knew about him: He could not care less about 47 percent of the population.  In his opinion, 47 percent of Americans are victims, who are dependent upon government benefits, don’t pay taxes and have no apparent interest in “taking responsibility or care for their own lives.”

By yesterday evening, Romney came out with a “pseudo” apology, conceding his wording was “inelegant.” But he essentially stood behind the sentiment.

Republicans have been throwing this 47 percent nonsense around for years. It represents the number of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes. But it entirely omits the fact that an additional 28 percent of Americans pay payroll taxes. That leaves roughly 18 percent of Americans that do not pay taxes.

But here’s the thing that really gets me: Romney makes the outlandishly false statement that the folks who do not pay taxes are Obama supporters. The reality is that more than half of those who do not pay taxes are elderly, and they poll overwhelmingly for Romney and Republicans in general.  Others who fall into this category are largely poorer and less-educated white Americans, who also vote overwhelmingly Republican. So while trying to push this old “entitlement society” meme, this genius actually succeeds in insulting his own base.

Here’s a really good infographic from the nonpartisan tax policy center.

In any other election, this would definitely be the end.

But this is no ordinary election. Romney’s “inelegant” wording is likely to fall on deaf ears. The insanity of the current political climate is that his only real sin here is being stupid enough to say these things out loud. His running mate Paul Ryan has been spouting this 47 percent fallacy all year.  The folks who should be offended probably won’t even get it. The old folks, the poorer and less educated whites have been in some ways “brainwashed” by this entitlement jab. Despite the fact that they represent the bulk of folks receiving “entitlements,” the demonization of the poor does not seem to bother them. I guess they assume Romney and Ryan are bashing “some other poor,” perhaps some other darker pigmented poor?

Here’s the really big reason why Democrats should not take their eye off the ball — the Republicans, largely due to Citizens United, have the most intense and brutal ground game we have ever seen: Huge amounts of outside and entirely secret money combined with the most massive voter suppression campaign in U.S. history.

More than 30 states have considered laws requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Three additional states passed laws requiring proof of citizenship. Two states voted to repeal Election Day registration laws. The new ID laws have almost invariably been sponsored—and promoted—by Republicans. They are concentrated in swing states, and they are targeting people of color…. You know us Obama-loving, welfare receiving victims.

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric that Mitt Romney’s chance at winning the White House is over because of his latest gaffe. The voter suppression machine is still at work and hasn’t stumbled yet.

Devona Walker is the politics editor for The Burton Wire

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