I am 75 years old and a proud 47-percenter. I was born in 1937 to parents who didn’t have a pot to pee in. They nearly killed me because they were so young they didn’t realize I couldn’t live long on watered down oatmeal. (It was all they had for a while.) They had to go on relief and it was an experience so humiliating to them, I was married and had a family of my own before they could bring themselves to tell me about it.
My dad was an auto worker in Detroit,and you know what that means. (Or do you?) Being an auto worker in Detroit meant constant ups and downs, as labor and management clashed over wages and working conditions. We were a union family, at the mercy of the inevitable layoffs and strikes. I can remember my dad coming home more than once to tell my mom he was laid off or going on strike. They were scared and I was scared. I was scared because they were scared. They never knew how long a strike or layoff would last, which meant, of course, they never knew how long the money would last. When times got tough enough, we would have to give up our rented apartment and go to live with my mother’s sister’s family.
When times were better for us but tough for them, they came to live with us. We cousins remember it all as a whopping good time. We were together and we were warm and we were loved. Life was good. Our parents, we learned years later, didn’t quite see it that way. But we were union families and that’s what we did. And it paid off. Once the war was over, our dads settled into good jobs and we were blue collar and middle class and proud.
My parents—those silly kids—were married for more than 50 years. My mother’s death nine months after their 50th Anniversary nearly broke my dad’s heart. He followed her less than two years later. It was love that kept them together and—weren’t we lucky?—they shared it with us.
So, Mitt, when you dismiss the 47 percent you’ve decided are losers because they choose to vote for Barack Obama, remember this: We’re voting for Barack Obama, not just because we trust him more than we do you, but because we know you will never understand what it means to be us. And that’s just sad.
Ramona Grigg is owner/blogger at Ramona's Voices and a regular contributor at dagblog. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit Free Press, Observer-Eccentric Newspapers, Ann Arbor Magazine and in regional and alternative publications across Michigan.