Dear Mr. Romney,
Although I am not yet part of the 47% you spoke so cruelly about in your unfiltered remarks to your unfeeling friends, I feel compelled to write to you anyway.
My husband is 72, in poor health and unable to work, and I am 68 and still working full-time. We are part of another unfortunate percentage– the working elderly…the ones still working in order to have decent health care coverage because, despite years of paying into Social Security and Medicare, despite paying income taxes for all of our working lives, the great American dream for us, and many like us has become the great American nightmare. Look around…you see us everywhere; the greeter in WalMart who cheerfully welcomes you, even though he is in obvious physical pain, the checker at the grocery store who is struggling with totaling up your groceries because of her arthritic hands, the receptionist at the dentist office whose hand shakes ever so slightly as she gives you a receipt. We are everywhere. We don’t complain because we are so thankful to still be working, so thankful that we are not on food stamps or government assistance, so thankful that we are not a burden to society or to our children….yet. But, if you look closely, you will see fear in our eyes because we know that day is coming….we will be part of the 47% soon. So, very soon, you can lump us in with all of the other 47%....the ones you think you don’t need to worry about.
As I heard you speak, I thought of my parents, who worked hard all of their lives to provide a better life for us; who believed in this country - believed that everyone deserved a chance, that no one should be worked to the bone for the financial gain of the few powerful industrialists who ran the country until workers united and formed unions. Instead of thinking of social security as a travesty, like you seem to, they were proud to be Americans, proud to be a part of a country that felt a responsibility for its poor and downtrodden. When I was growing up, Mr. Romney, the words "union" and "Social Security" were not dirty words. They were hallmarks of a country who didn't turn its back on its workers or its elderly. Presidency Roosevelt, who faced a similar set of circumstances as we face now, was revered for stepping out of his own privileged world and daring to envision another world that embraced everyone. They were proud to be a part of a country that welcomed with open arms the disenfranchised and downtrodden.....they believed that this country was built by people who were part of the 47% in other countries….they came here because they believed that America was different. And we always have been. We don’t forget about the disenfranchised or the weak…the words on the very statue that welcomed them to America proudly proclaims: ”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These are the people you so easily dismissed in your remarks.
We may be tired, we may be poor, but we are strong enough to make our voices heard on November 6th. Yes, indeed, Mr. Romney, you do need to worry about us.
Nita King is an administrative assistant in the MFA Program at Murray State University, Murray, KY for the past two years. She has a degree in English and Economics from Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas, where she and her husband grew up. They have two children and four grandchildren.