An open letter to friends from my hometown

“At first I didn’t think Romney’s comments were any big deal, but then I realized he was talking about me, and so many Americans like me.”

Let that quote (which you can find more on here) sink in a bit.

Back ground in case you haven’t heard: recently, some video was leaked from a closed-doors, $50,000-a-plate Romney fundraiser, in which Romney had some things to say about the 47 percent of Americans who paid no federal income tax last year.

Hinting that this is a bad thing has been a Republican talking point for awhile (bizarrely, because it’s largely due to Repbulican tax cuts that that number is so high), but Romney took it to the extreme by saying that if you’re part of that 47 percent, you have no personal responsibility and it isn’t his job to worry about you.

I’ve written previously about how nobody who isn’t rich should vote Republican, and the absurdity of the 47% vs. 53% talking point. But this leak, I think you really have no excuse for voting for Romney.

This post is not a plea to vote for Obama. I think Obama has serious flaws as a candidate. So you can vote for Obama, or you can vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, or you can vote Green Party, or write-in Paris Hilton or stay home on election day for all I care. But whatever you do, don’t vote for Romney.

Because when Romney says the 47 percent have no personal responsibility and it isn’t his job to worry about them, odds are he was talking about you. And even if he wasn’t, he was almost certainly talking about someone close to you.

First of all, don’t think that because you’re working and paying federal taxes, you’re not part of the 47 percent. More than half of the 47 percent pay federal payroll taxes, which are  distinct from income taxes.

Next, the 47 percent isn’t a permanent class of people. Most of them have paid, or will pay, federal income tax in the future. Even if you’re paying federal income tax now, there’s a good chance you didn’t in at least one previous year, say when you were in school. By Romney’s logic, you must not have had any personal responsibility that year. (Note: I’m in the opposite situation: I didn’t pay federal income tax last year, but did previous years.)

And even if you’ve paid federal income tax every year of your adult life, it’s almost certain that someone close to you hasn’t. Among other things, of the people who don’t pay federal income tax or payroll tax, nearly half are retirees. People who paid into the system most of their lives but are now collecting benefits instead. That’s a category which may very well include your parents or grandparents.

In short, Romney probably thinks you’re someone who has no personal responsibility and who he shouldn’t care about. He almost certainly thinks that about someone close to you, quite possibly your parents or grandparents.

Oh, and the 47% also includes the unemployed–people who are looking for work and can’t find it (probably because of the recession that happened under Bush’s watch). This is worth highlighting because much of the rationale for the Romney campaign is that Obama’s policies have failed to fix our current economic woes.

I actually agree that Obama’s handling of the recovery has been flawed, but have always thought that Romney’s proposed solution–just cut taxes for Romney and his rich friends–laughable. Romney’s 47% remarks reinforce this point: privately, he thinks the people who are suffering most under our current economic troubles have no personal responsibility, and it isn’t his job to care about them.

About the abortion issue

Now in my previous post on why you shouldn’t vote Republican (linked above), I talked about social issues didn’t say anything about abortion specifically. Let me remedy that. But I’m not going to try to change your mind your mind about whether a month-old embryo has a soul or not. Instead, I’m going to show you why no matter what you think of that question, abortion is if anything a reason to vote against Romney.

Here’s the deal: you may have heard about Missouri Republican Todd Akin’s infamous comments about “legitimate rape.” Aikin claimed that if a woman is legitimately raped, she won’t get pregnant. That means that on Akin’s view, if a woman claims to have gotten pregnant by rape, she must not have really been raped.

This is a popular idea among many anti-abortion folks, because they neither want to budge from their absolutist position on abortion, nor have to defend having the government force rape victims to bear their rapists’ children. The reality is that while pregnancies from rape are in relative terms a small fraction of the unwanted pregnancies in the United States, the number of such pregnancies in the US has been estimated in the tens of thousands per year.

Romney has stated that he supports abortion being legal in cases of rape, incest, and “the health and life of the mother.” But here’s the problem with that: once you’ve gotten as far as Romney’s position, you’ve admitted that the standard “abortion is murder” talking point is wrong. You’ve admitted that the right of women to control their bodies matters.

Well… you’ve admitted that right matters for some women, but not all women. In some ways, Romney’s position on abortion may actually be worse than the absolutist view. Libby Anne, an ex-evangelical who’s one of my fellow bloggers at Patheos.com, has an excellent post  on this, which she draws out some of the downright misogynistic implications of the “except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother” view.

(If you’re anti-abortion and you have the time, not only do I strongly encourage you to read the previous two links, but also this post and this post by Libby Anne.)

 

  • Goldstein Squad Member

    The question as to whether a one month old embryo has a soul is irrelevant.

    It is a human being…unless you are going to argue it is a Sub Human of some king…and has only one chace at life.

    If life is so Gawd Damned important to atheists, why do they want to take it away? Answer…because life is obviously not that important to Atheists. Its no conincidence that every Government that has Atheism in ists constitution has been a bloody totalitarian dictatorhip.

    • http://twitter.com/blamer @b

      Yes very astute, a one month old embryo *is* a one month old human being and those who eat them prefer them dead.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shockna Shockna

      “It is a human being…unless you are going to argue it is a Sub Human of some king…and has only one chace at life.”

      “sub-human” is the wrong word; “pre-human” is much more appropriate here. You could argue that this is just another term for “sub-human”, but I use it to avoid the loaded connotations with the term “sub-human”.

      The primary factor is not life, but sentience. Of course a fetus is alive. In precisely the same sense that a protozoan is alive. One of the defining traits of humans is self-awareness and conscious thought; something that a fetus, due to it’s still developing body, clearly lacks.

      As to the absurd snipe about atheism in governing documents, most atheists don’t want atheism explicitly written in. We tend to be pretty rights-respecting, and want -secularism- written in, which is something altogether different. And, for the trillionth time, communism != all atheism.

      I’d say “Big Brother Squad Member” is a far more appropriate name for you.

  • Goldstein Squad Member

    By the way, did you know that the majority of the aborted babies are future WOMEN who will never be born?

    I think the pro abortion position shows a subconscious hatred of women.

    And minorities, for that matter. As David Duke demonstrated, if not for Roe v Wade there would be 20 MILLION more Blacks in this country…admit it, you wouldn’t like that, would you?

    • Makoto

      Really? I think leaving the choice to abort or not up to the actual human involved in the pregnancy shows more respect for her than anything else possibly could. You don’t know her circumstances, much like you don’t know what goes on in the minds of the atheists that you seem so angry at.

  • John B Hodges

    My “short argument” re. abortion-
    (1) A potential person is not a person yet.
    (2) Before a living being can be a person, it must have a cerebral cortex.
    (3) Before we object to someone killing that being, purely for their own convenience, it should have a cerebral cortex larger than those of the beings we regularly kill for food.

    For a fuller explanation of my philosophical position, see
    http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/stuff-ive-written-on-abortion

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