Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leah Cassorla's Voice

Dear Mitt,
I am one of the “lesser half.” Let’s face it, that’s what you mean by 47 percent, isn’t it? Not quite half of the country. The lesser of a bisection? I’m there. I want you to know you are absolutely right. I do feel entitled! I know, I’m supposed to hide behind pretty words, but let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we? I AM entitled to food, shelter, and basic health-care. I am not entitled to these things because I am a victim (maybe that’s what got you in trouble?), but because I am HUMAN.

I know it’s a lot to ask, and I’m sure I don’t make enough to buy the off-the-shelf version, much less have it tailored for me, but I was raised to know that human dignity is my birthright. My birthright comes with the understanding that I can only be part of this culture that claims to value each individual merely for his or her being and not skin color, religion, or even income, if I make it mine. I must pay in it to own it. I have been, since I was 14 and was allowed to work. Before that age I helped wrap Penny Savers in the living room of our falling down house in the “barrio” part of Sunnyslope, a neighborhood in Phoenix, Az. I was 18 before I knew my parents went hungry so I could eat. I was raised believing I would grow to be better and better off than those on whose shoulders I stand. My family was one that valued education above all else. Education was the metaphoric bootstrap that lifted my family into the lower middle class.

My parents believe fox and news go in the same sentence, but I always found that an oddity. Now, thanks to you, I understand. See, you count on people like my parents who have pride in their hard work, who at 67 are not looking at retirement because they need food and shelter and all those basic rights of healthy living that keep our collective society from paying for them through backdoor handouts and indigent care. You say you don’t need to worry about the 47 percent, but the sad truth is your statement will spur some of them to vote for you, because they know deep down you can’t have meant them. They know they do not see themselves as victims. They have not been irresponsible. They have not assumed they were owed anything. But there they are. Accepting social security and medicare and working besides to make ends look at each other from across the room—and occasionally meet, even. My parents are wealthy by the standard they lived when they had four young kids at home. They now have space to spread their legs at the end of a long day on their feet. They can kick back in their fully paid for sofa and watch you talk on Fox news about all those reprehensible souls who would wish us into caring about the lesser half.

For your next attack, I suggest you mention that the lesser half of this country procreates far too much. It is, after all, a standard argument of the right that “those people” have too many kids, that they have them only in order to stay on welfare, that having a family is irresponsible. But, I know you can’t do that. Yours is also the party that condemns any attempt to help poor and middle class women gain access to health care and birth control. I know that your party is far too busy attempting to legislate my use of my vagina to notice I exist (except when I have the gall to use the word vagina, or to expect that you stay out of its business). I know you don’t have to worry about me! I am of the lesser half: Both ways! But you do worry about me, Mitt. Your people keep calling. See, I’m a swing voter in a swing state, and that makes me dangerous, because I am of the lesser half. I am that most dangerous of beings, Mitt, the educated, independent kind. Worry, Mitt. Worry. I am the lesser half and I am independent and I am dangerous to you and your kind. And you just insulted me for simply being. And then you insulted my intelligence by attempting to back-pedal.

I think the only thing you got wrong in Boca Raton was the first part. You failed to worry about the lesser half. Oh, I know that it’s a great way to get the better part of the 99 percent to see themselves as being on your side. But then, that’s an insult to the greater half, too, isn’t it? Where would you be today if your father hadn’t worked all night long sewing straps on your boots Mitt? Where would you be if, in a rush to deny you, the very shoulders you stand upon shrugged? Don’t worry. My community feeds at the homeless shelter every fifth Sunday a month. We even bring home-made food. And we don’t ask for tax returns.

Leah Cassorla

Leah F. Cassorla is a 47-percenter residing in Tallahassee, Florida, where she dares to try to earn a PhD, though it will mean she will earn little from her hard work for the rest of her life. She believes in the inherent right of all living things to food, shelter and medical care and has had the privilege of living in countries that respect such a right. She is currently a bottom-feeder of the lowest order, and has mountains of student loan debt she looks forward to writing off from her taxes in the future. Her writing may or may not lead her to become a proud payer of high taxes one day, but she's hopeful nonetheless.