Quotes from We Represent...

"...I know that my choice isn’t popular with some of my war-buddies, some of the people I respect more than anything else in this world, but I need to do what I see is right. This is the best country on the planet. I know, I’ve been to many of the worst. In this country even the poorest kid, white trash, black, hispanic, even the poorest kid has a shot at becoming great. We’re all Americans. Let’s stop dividing the country into percentages and work together to move forward." -- Sean Davis, Recipient of the Purple Heart [read the full letter

"So, I’m one of them too, one of the 47%, though you’d hardly guess it to look at me. I should, by political logic anyway, be on your side. I was raised in a small, rural town in the American west. My grandfather was a rancher, a GMC auto salesman, and rodeo president. My father is a minister. I am a wife, a mother, and—yes—a Christian. And I have always been a rule-follower, up-by-my-own-bootstraps, A-student type. But people can’t really be reduced to types, can they?" -- Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

"We aren’t moochers, we are the young, the next generation coming of age and continuing the American experience... I’d rather live in a country where loss of job, loss of health insurance, loss of baby does not equal immense debt—financial stress atop heart ache. In a country where we needn’t miscarry our dreams amidst painful obstacles but can emerge healed, triumphant, and ready to begin anew." -- Jennifer Givhan

"Funny, Mitt,  you call me a 'victim'  -- I call myself a 'survivor.'" -- Rene Mercer 
"...I tell you this today because I lived. The law of the land does affect our everyday lives. It is the difference of dying and living, education and ignorance, eating and starving. America deserves the best, but we must stand up to corporate interests and unchecked greed. It is my dream that my generation will see universal healthcare in America." -- Sarah Adkins 

"I don’t know anyone who says I’ll work for less so I can owe less. Owing less, for the lower-income class, means you have less." --  Tara Masih

"I had three children—two boys, eleven and eight, and a daughter who’d just turned four—when I was met in the driveway by the county sheriff. They’d found my husband’s body in a car in the mountains of Utah, he said, asphyxiated by a propane grill my husband had bought earlier that morning, filled with gas, and then opened—intentionally—in the back seat...  Now, I am so grateful…I can’t even begin to explain the extraordinarily deep and abiding gratitude I feel. I am grateful for a husband who loved his family and worked so hard. I am grateful for the money he paid to our government every month. I’m grateful for a government that takes care of its own, a country that testifies to the world: give me your tired, your poor..." Traci O. Connor [read the full letter]

"What America gets today from the 47% is that same promise of hard work and service my grandparents made sixty years ago. We promise our labor on behalf of the next generation’s dreams. We promise to use our lives as stewards of our time and talents for the betterment of a society we still believe can be great. Or, as my Sunday School teacher once told me, we promise to keep believing that from those to whom much is given, much can be expected." -- Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum
"You did not, in fact, build that. You inherited that...we started a Habitat chapter in our own county. Today the sleepy seed he planted has borne much fruit: half a hundred new or renovated homes for low-income East Tennessee families. Poor, but working poor. Forty-seven-percenters. Lazy, entitled “victims”? Not the proud, grateful folks I saw hoisting trusses and driving nails." -- Jon Jefferson

"The poor aren’t helpless and they aren’t the great Other; they’re normal people who have fallen on hard times. Shouldn’t we, the wealthiest nation in the world, help them out? Can we please stop demonizing them? They’re already poor; they have enough to worry about without being used as a prop on the national political stage..." -- Rebecca Lehmann  

"I’m a child of immigrant parents--you know, that classic American dream--parents who moved to a country they believed in before they even set their eyes on it... And you may applaud our family’s story and say, Good for you! You’re not part of the 47 percent! But of course we were, always have been. And here’s where the story gets tricky... My father ruined his knees and his back, carrying all that mail for the Postal Service.... My mother went blind, a genetic condition... If you had cut Medicare and privatized Social Security, who knows how they would be faring today. A welfare home wouldn’t be out of the question." -- J.W. Wang [read the full letter]

"My grandfather, an Onondaga Iroquois man and a registered Republican, was raised in poverty in upstate New York. He began working as a child, 10 years old, and served in the Navy during the Korean War. He is retired as disabled veteran now and receives all of his health care from his local VA hospital... He has given you his support. When—if ever—do you plan on giving that support back? " -- Alise Hamilton [read the full letter]

"My mother always told her girls, 'Don’t marry him until you see how he treats the waitress.' She had only a high school degree, and yet she knew what you apparently don’t understand. How we treat the people we’re allowed to mistreat is the measure of who we are...When I watched the video of your “47-percent” speech, I couldn’t help noticing the server passing back and forth in front of the camera lens, the glasses and cutlery clinking in the background. Even as you denigrated Americans like the wait staff in that room, they kept doing what they do, with the grace and skill that make it possible for people like you to pretend they don’t even exist... Just know this: They were listening... They’re always listening." -- Connie Shultz [read the full letter]

"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 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..." -- Ramona Grigg

"What you don’t understand, Mr. Romney, is that so many of us work and work hard each day – trying to make our world a better place.  It’s not always a lucrative business, but it is work that fills up the spaces in one’s heart, knowing that we’ve made a positive contribution to the world we live in.  It’s not really about how much we pay in taxes after all, it’s about how much we care about our community." -- Jill Gerard

 "Whenever I tell this story someone inevitable tries to claim that I am the exception. But I was the average: a white female in her twenties, divorced with dependents (see the stats from the 'Overview of Entitlement Programs,' Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, 1994). I am the face of welfare... I could have started this letter, Mitt, by saying that I used to be part of the 47%. After all, I now have a job as a tenure-track professor of Shakespeare at a research-intensive university... But the fact is I would not be who I am or where I am without government assistance. I would still be repeating a generational cycle; I would still be making $8.50 an hour. I am the 47%." -- Trish Thomas Henley [read the full letter]

"And so, after all those years in the trades, building things, getting my hands dirty, and calloused, and broken on occasion I got to retire. After 35 years of working outside at minus 20 in the upper Midwest. Or 100 degrees with 90% humidity, I got to retire. After 30 years of having my ability to earn a decent living being under constant assault from people like you, I got to retire. After the Reagan years when I couldn't buy a job and I had to be a 47%er again getting food stamps and government cheese so I could feed my family, I got to retire." -- Jim Crawford [
read the full letter]

"In 1987, when I was eighteen, I had a job in a factory that made cheerleader uniforms. Though the factory was hot, loud and dirty, at least I wasn’t milking cows or working in the chicken processing plant like some of my classmates. This was the rural upper Midwest, where the 47% you dismissively noted in the Boca Raton would more accurately be calculated as 75 or 80% of the population. It was clear to everyone at the factory that we had been given opportunities the others there had been denied. One can read clearly your notion that having wealth suggests not only greater financial prudence, but a superior moral position. I can’t say I received complex theology while n Sunday School and confirmation classes, but I learned the basics: We’re all in this together; compassion is the greatest virtue; we are equal in the eyes of God and we will be judged by our treatment of the least among us…” [read the full letter] -- Mark Wunderlich

"Actually, I was homeless for most of last year. Not on-the-street homeless, but staying in a series of fold-out beds and couches in different cities, trying to work out how the hell I was going to get enough money for a car.... For all my striving, what finally saved me was this: I got lucky. And I am deeply grateful. Because if I couldn't tell the difference between hard work and good fortune, what kind of asshole would I be?" -- David Dickerson [read the full letter]

"The 47 percent, many of them work for you: they mow your lawns, they cook your food, they do your laundry. Don’t make life any more difficult for them than it already is. They’re only human." -- J.W. Wang

"Mr. Romney: you’re convinced you pull in $57,000 a day because you were smarter or more hard working than everyone else. The truth is, you were lucky – lucky to be born into a wealthy family and educated at a top-notch prep school, lucky to be white in a country where racism still holds too many of us back. You got four draft deferments. When your contemporaries were dying in Vietnam, you were trying to convert the French to Mormonism...  Yet you sneer at those you say feel 'entitled' to such luxuries as food, housing and medical care. The people you so blithely dismiss teach America’s children, sweep America’s floors, fight fires, fight crime, grow our food. Many are elderly, living on the social security money they paid into over a lifetime. Many are veterans, who put their lives on the line for this country. You're the one acting entitled. You're the one who confuses good fortune with accomplishment." -- Diane Roberts [read the full letter

"Of course if you were to repeal the healthcare reform that would also mean that insurance companies can deny anyone with a pre-existing condition coverage.  Now just how many people over the age of 65 do you think have no pre-existing conditions?" -- Rene Mercer

"And who am I?  I’m a poor white trash kid from North Florida who grew up in a single wide trailer on an acre of land we rented for $75 a month.  Who am I?  I’m a kid who ate free school lunches and breakfasts, who felt the deepest bitterest disappointment when my bus was late in the morning because it meant I wouldn’t have breakfast that day.  I’m the kid who foraged in the woods for blackberries and acorns during the summer...  The other thing these people need is hope.  They need someone to believe in them.  That hope came to me in 1997 when I joined the LDS, or Mormon, church.  In the Young Women’s program of the church I learned about Individual Worth, that I am a divine daughter of a Heavenly Father and that I have infinite worth.  Today my children sing 'I am a Child of God.'  Do you believe that, Mitt?  Do you believe in the Individual Worth of each member of that 47%?" -- Olivia Ghafoerkhan [read full letter

"Among those 47%, my parents: my father, who is 90, with Parkinson's, a decorated WWII Navy veteran and a civilian employee for the Air Force for 27 years; my mother, who is 85, who worked as a Rosie-the-Riveter in the shipyards of Bremerton, Washington. They are not victims. They have every day of their lives taken responsibility for their lives." -- Robert Wrigley [read the full letter]

"Without the structure of public school, a place where I was fed a free hot lunch every weekday (and breakfast, too, for a time), I went hungry a lot of the time school wasn’t in session.  At home I lived on rations of free government cheese, free government peanut butter, and potatoes.  I was a child freeloader.  I’m not being hyperbolic, Mitt.  For years and years, I just took and took.  I had to..." -- Carissa Neff [read the full letter]

"Would you really have begrudged my children a hot lunch at school during their formative years? That stings, sir, I have to say, it does. My children are kind and hard-working and idealistic, and can't wait to give back to their country and help others as they have been helped. You should apologize to them, if not to all of America." -- Mary Akers

"...the fact is, even though I sometimes still struggle to pay my bills, I still pay my taxes without complaint because I want teachers teaching, construction crews working, police policing, mailmen delivering the mail, etc -- I want the government to pay my neighbors to work at these jobs.  And if they can't work, whether disabled or elderly or unemployed because their mill closed to ship jobs overseas, or their company was taken over by Bain Capital and restructured and leveraged, and in the restructuring and leveraging, many people were pink-slipped, because -- let's face it -- cutting jobs saves money, I want them to not be hungry, I want them to have a place to live..." Gerry LaFemina

"I hope I never get a full refund again in my working life, Mitt.  I hope I’m done with that particular lesson.  I’m not going to lie—I’d like to make more every year.  Hell, I’d like to get rich like you!  But if that plan doesn’t work out, and the day comes that I do have to file for a full refund again, I refuse to feel shame over it." -- Laurel Snyder [read the full letter]

 "You have the suit. You have the haircut. You have more money than God. But you don’t have the soul to actually imagine others outside of your small and privileged experience. And this, I’m afraid, is your personal tragedy. Please, don’t make it ours." -- Erin Belieu [read the full letter]

"You claim what you said to that audience of one-percenters wasn’t 'elegantly stated,' but that’s disingenuous in the extreme.  The problem was that (for once) you were clear.  Your contempt for those who dwell outside of America’s gated communities and country clubs and corner offices was breath-takingly unambiguous." -- Richard Russo [read the full letter]

"And, listen Mitt, even the rich may have at some point in the history of their families been the beneficiaries of a government that believes we’re all in it together and should help each other out whenever possible.  Here’s a quote you might recognize, uttered by a woman looking into a TV camera.  She says, 'We’ve only owned our home for the last few years,' and goes on, talking about her husband, to say 'He was a refugee from Mexico.  He was on relief—welfare relief—for the first years of his life, but this great country gave him opportunities.' That, of course, is your mother speaking, Mitt.  You should listen to her.  And then you should apologize to the whole nation."  -- Ed Falco [read the full letter]

"After my father left our family, my Mom had no choice, but to go on utility and food assistance.  She worked a full time job as a secretary and three part-time jobs, cleaning offices, catering, working at the velodrome. All for low wages. All so that we could live in a better part of town and go to good public schools.  Never because she felt like a victim." -- Jane M. Casteline [read the full letter

"And yet I still grew up feeling entitled—to my hopes, to my ambitions for the future. Not just entitled, but—even worse!—I believed I had an inalienable right to my dreams, to pursue the potential for happiness that is one of our country’s most cherished, founding principles." -- Erin Belieu [read the full letter]

"I know that when I volunteered for the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, I didn’t even fill out a tax return.  Even when I was getting jump and combat pay (don’t get me started on THAT side issue—it was $100 a month when I served, is now $225 a month today.  Those kids should pay their taxes like real Americans doggone it!), I didn’t make enough to rate being a part of your 53%." -- Seth Brady Tucker [read the full letter]

"I can’t fault you for being born into such privilege, Mitt Romney, but I can and do fault you for seeming to think that your privileged entry into the world makes you better than the rest of us. You aren’t better, you are just damn lucky. I hope that luck runs out this November." -- Dinty W. Moore [read the full letter]

"Or what about my mother, who lived in a government-subsidized housing project in Charlestown, sewed her own clothes through high school, and paid for college with a cocktail of government loans, scholarships, and part-time work? Her master’s degree landed her a job that enabled her to pay back all her loans as lump sums. For my family and yours, temporary government assistance led to success and self-sustainability, not dependency." -- Katie Cortese [read the full letter]

"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."  -- Gayle Brandeis

"Mitt, I'm in the 53% [now]. I pay a lot in taxes. I don't especially want them lower. Because the money our family provides helps keep the dream alive. Because it's our responsibility. Because we are all in this together. Because we love our country, and we love the people in it. All of them." -- Jennifer Finney Boylan [read the full letter]

"I could write a book about my mother’s devotion to her students—how she’d stay after school to help kids complete college applications, how she’d nominate students for life-changing scholarships, how she’d drive them four hours to academic enrichment camps because their parents didn’t have cars, how her former students still write to her to say what a difference she made in their lives, frequently enclosing photos of their own children in caps and gowns. Yet Mitt Romney would have looked at her tax returns and declared that she needed 'to take personal responsibility and care for [her life].'” -- Erin Murphy [read the full letter]

"I have never expected the government to provide for me, though I was certainly glad such programs as WIC existed when my first daughter was born and two months lapsed between the times I graduated college and found a job.  Or that Medicaid was available when I couldn’t privately insure her due to a “pre-existing” condition she was born with that would have cost her an eye... I guess our payroll taxes aren’t quite enough to make us matter in your eyes, yet we are exactly the type of nuclear family you want on your side." -- Danielle Hammill [read the full letter

"For my husband, medical school, internship residency, and saving lives seems to make you think he's a freeloader ... And now, it seems, you think even the PATIENTS my husband treats are freeloaders because maybe they can't afford to pay him in full without help." -- Leora Skolkin-Smith [read the full letter]

"When you were at Harvard Law School in the early 1970s, you lived with Ann in a beautiful home given to you rent-free by your father, Michigan Governor George Romney. And you paid your daily bills using stock revenue you inherited from your father. (I'm afraid that when you told a gaggle of millionaires at your recent $50,000-a-plate fundraiser that you "inherited nothing," you were not being at all truthful.) When I was at Harvard Law School in the late 1990s, I lived in a fifty-year-old dormitory called "the Gropius Complex," and my room was a 10' x 10' cubbyhole. I lived entirely off public and private loans..." - Seth Abramson [read the full letter]

"What we need, Mitt, is a man who sees people. Who sees faces and real, actual lives. You’re a fine businessman, Mitt, but you’re not a President—not to this part of the 53%." -- D.K. Price [read the full letter

"And the most chilling part of your speech is when you say that it's not your job 'to worry about those people.'... And there it is. Your divided view of our country. Us and those people.... If those were the choices, Mr. Romney -- us and those people -- I would invite you to keep your us. I'd be with those people. Proudly. But those aren't the choices. Not at all. An America made up of us and those people will fail. It is doomed. It's not the world I want for my children." -- Julianna Baggott [read the full letter]

" Your religion seems important to you, but like the country, you’re reading it all wrong.  Jesus is all about helping others, spreading love, making sure that we all look out and care for one another." -- Caroline Leavitt [read the full letter]

"At one point in my journey to a degree in economics, I probably did adopt the mindset that life in America is a game, to be waged and won. Profits were a goal and some false indicator of my worth to the world. But somewhere along the way, I took actual responsibility. I had lived a privileged life in an upper middle class Caucasian family, and I needed to responsibly find out what life was like for those born into less financially fortunate circumstances. The truth was the least I owed my fellow humans and neighbors." -- Caroline Collier [read the full letter]

"We have a social safety net in this country because of people like you. Because when the Wall Street scandals and manipulations of 1929 and 1982 and 1989 and 2008 destroy the economy—eliminating jobs, defunding the public sector, and crashing the real estate market—we need something to save the working people, the ones you have recently roasted as dependent, lazy, and irresponsible people you “can’t worry about.”Without social security, Medicare, and her teachers’union pension, my mother, too ill to work, would have been homeless." -- Dean Bakopoulos [read the full letter]

"The point here isn't to talk about earning enough money to be worthy of your attention, but to let you know that at all levels of earning are people who work hard and who deserve your attention and concern if you are to be president." -- Lesley Arimah [read the full letter]

"These challenges should be in the hands of a leader who represents not just 100% of their countries citizens, but uses their position of power to affect change for those with the smallest of voices, as the great leaders of this nation have consistently done." -- Rachel McClure [read the full letter

"...I hope I am correct in my belief that we share a common vision, that the world we wish to entrust to our children and grandchildren is one in which virtue is rewarded, and not where reward is held up as a sign of one's virtue." -- Benjamin Paloff [read the full letter]