SALT LAKE CITY, September 20, 2012—Will Mitt Romney’s candidacy be sunk by his disparagement of the 47%? Probably not.
Pundits of all persuasions have analyzed and assessed Romney’s remarks to a group of donors that “there are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them,” etc., etc.
Lots of questions have been posed about the alleged gaffe: What did he mean? Are the numbers accurate? Did he conflate two (or three) problems? Is it his “Gettysburg?” Did he write off almost half the country?
The only questions of any import is: does it matter?
It does not. That’s because the 47% don’t exist in any static, political sense.
Sure, 47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes. Few dispute that. And there are a great many Americans who do think they are victims. The entire Occupy crowd is a good example. To their own thinking, they could be playing drums, smoking weed, not taking showers, and somehow getting paid were it not for greedy plutocrats and Republicans.
But who really sees themselves as victims? Precious few.
Who really understands the tax code and the complex ways it applies to them? Still fewer.
Who wants government to provide them with everything from cradle to grave? Even those who serially abuse welfare programs wouldn’t admit to as much.
Put another way, nobody will claim to be the 47%, so nobody can be put off.
The 47% to whom Romney referred are vaporous phantoms, a set of Americans that changes depending on the conversation. The New Republic even declared that “the 53% are moochers, too!”
Democrats and Obama like to talk about the 1% who don’t pay their fare share. In no significant way does the president lose support of the vast army of one-percenters who will follow him into the economic wilderness.
Similarly, Republicans and Romney talk about the victim class that federal entitlements create. Yet many in the bottom 47% will cast a vote for Romney.
The GOP nominee’s statement will not move a single vote.
What’s entertaining about this entire episode is that is has thrown the left-leaning media machines eagerly engaged in the Obama re-election effort into convulsions of hysterical pronouncements that Romney’s campaign is done. Again. And he marches on, unfazed and unaffected.
That’s because the 47% don’t matter.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
He writes about Salt Lake City and the World in the Food and Travel section.
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