Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gayle Brandeis's Voice

Dear Mitt,

The number 47 has long been significant for me. I see it everywhere--it jumps out at me from the license plate of almost every car I find myself behind; it leaps off pages and screens with alarming frequency. For years, I was convinced the recurrence of the number meant I would die at 47, but whenever I see it now, I take it as a sign that I’m on the right track. 

Others have felt the same way. There’s a whole 47 Society dedicated to sightings of the number (which the group considers to be the “quintessential random number.”) In the 1960s, Pomona College math professor Donald Bentley made a joke proof that asserted that all numbers equal 47; a Pomona graduate went on to write for Star Trek: The Next Generation and threaded the number into every single episode. 

Now 47 feels even more meaningful. It has revealed you for who you really are; it has revealed your appalling lack of compassion, your stunning disdain for nearly half our nation’s people.

I have been a member of the 47 percent. Early in my first marriage, my husband was going to college and we survived on extra student loans, which covered our rent, and food stamps. At the time, change below a dollar in food stamp purchases was given in coins, and I would diligently save up those dimes and quarters so I could take my kids out for a bagel after we went to free story time at the downtown library. I babysat in our little family student housing duplex, and the money I received went directly to diapers. Most of the people in our community were in the same boat, and we often pooled our resources, having communal meals in our shared yard space, giving each other hand me downs, finding other ways to support one another. These were lean, challenging years, but they were sweet years, and I am grateful for what they brought out in me and those around me. We knew we were digging deep and creating community, creating a sustainable world for our children, but you would have seen us as freeloaders. As nothing.

47 is considered a “safe” prime, a “real” prime number. There is nothing safe or real about you, Mitt (or perhaps you are too safe, just saying what you think people want to hear. Let us tell you: we’ve heard enough. Enough of your lies. Enough of your out of touch privilege, your smirking sense of entitlement.) 47 has become a signpost of destiny for me, and now it has for you, as well: 47 means you will never, ever be our President.
-- Gayle Brandeis
Gayle Brandeis is the author of several novels, including The Book of Dead Birds, which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement.