America’s Presidential Election: The Forty-Seven Percent

There have been countless hiccups on Mitt Romney’s behalf during the current presidential election campaign in the US. Romney has been caught out on several occasions for not saying the right thing. As a result, his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention was more tightly controlled, to such an extent that Romney’s advisers left him with little room for improvisation. This turned out to be a smart move,  as the speech was well received. It appeared that  Romney’s more deliberative speeches had put him back on the right track…

However a video surfaced earlier on this year which has once more shown that Romney can still be caught out. During a private reception back in May, Romney was caught on camera ranting that 47% of the population are dependent on the government, and that of those they were “paying no income tax”. Romney went further to say that these were the people who supported President Obama, because they think they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

President Obama and the Democratic Party have wasted no time turning this accusation to their advantage. After Romney had insulted almost half of the population, the President made it clear to the Americans that he counters what Romney believes, insinuating that Romney has not “gotten around a lot” if he thinks these things about half of the American populous. President Obama cajolingly added that “the American people are the hardest working people there are”. The President stated that it’s not a ‘hand out’ that the Americans want, but a ‘hand up’, in order to turn ambitions into reality. The President acknowledged that there is a likelihood that individuals may abuse the governments welfare system, but continued to add that Romney, as a Republican who believes in tax cuts for the wealthy and represents largely this class in American society, should perhaps acknowledge the countless millionaires who aren’t paying their own fair share of taxes.

In response to the video, Romney has replied by saying that his assertions was “not elegantly stated”, but that there was some substance to what he was trying to say. He stated that he was answering a question about the misuse of benefits, hence his explicit response.

The question which all Americans ought to ask themselves is what exactly was Romney’s meaning behind this video? It is clear how he fears the ideas of ‘socialism’, with him openly talking about how half of the public live off the government. His portrayal of this 47% as ‘victims’ of such a socially lenient system is an offensive statement to make against the working class people in America. They who try to make a life for themselves, will only be alienated further by his accusatory rhetoric.

There are less than fifty days until the election, with the presidential debates shortly kicking off. Neither Romney nor Obama are expected to come out the other end with any secrets intact. Mitt Romney ought to now compose himself better, and to attempt to put this embarrassing video behind him. How far he can recover from this debacle remains unsure. But rest assured, ‘the 47%’ are unlikely to forget what has already been said.

Kiran Dhaliwal


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