Being disabled. Are we the 47% Mitt Romney describes?
Well, it really hit the fan for Mitt Romney this week when Mother Jones magazine posted video of him speaking at an exclusive fundraiser in Florida. The infamous 47% comments seem likely to sink his campaign as surely as the bogus claims of the “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” sunk Kerry’s campaign in 2004. Only this time the candidate is sinking himself with his own callous assessment of almost half the people in this country.
Many of us dealing with chronic illness have had to stop working and file for Social Security Disability Insurance. Do you feel Mr. Romney’s comments are a true reflection of your life and motivations? I for one do not see myself as a victim who wants to be dependent on the government and has no personal responsibility. See the full video here on MotherJones. com.
I have written an open letter to Mitt Romney which I would like to share here:
Dear Mr. Romney,
I saw an article the other day about a 12 year old boy who wrote to you expressing his dismay at some of your positions and thought if he could do it, I certainly should. I am somewhat older than him at 45, but enjoyed reading some of my own thoughts from his fresh perspective.
I want to talk to you about values. The Republican party is quite fond of claiming that they hold some kind of monopoly on “family values,” seemingly the ethical and moral principles that hold us together as a society. You seem to have a strong sense of family and care deeply for your own wife and children. Unfortunately, aside from that, you appear to be a man who’s values and political stances shift as needed to court votes. The 40+ minutes of video at that fundraiser was quite the window into what just may be your true beliefs, there surrounded by “your” people, the super rich who are above such mundane concerns as where their food, housing, and medical care are coming from. For me and my husband these are daily concerns.
You see, I seem to be one of the 47% of which you spoke with such disdain. I supported President Obama before I became disabled at the age of 45, and I support him now. Not as you suppose because he’s going to keep the benefits coming, encouraging my dependency. I support President Obama because of his genuine care and compassion for the plight of so many in our country who never had the advantages you have had.
Before my heart attack 2 years ago I worked full time as a Registered Nurse. It was hard work, but I loved taking care of my patients and knew if one area became too stressful there were other jobs I could move into. I never imagined myself having chest pain every day and growing so fatigued I have to take a nap after an hour or two of minor activity. My symptoms caused me to stop working last year.
Fortunately, I had paid social security taxes since I was 16 years old and was eligible for Social Security disability. I had paid premiums on a longterm disability insurance plan for years and also had that to help me for the first two years of disability. I have paid income taxes throughout my adult life and continue to pay taxes on my LTD insurance benefit.
You see, I believe it is important to contribute to society and to pay my taxes. Our taxes are what build our highways, our schools, our parks, and libraries. I have paid sales tax, road tax, property tax, income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax. I have performed volunteer work for crisis hotlines, caring for hospice patients, and raising money and awareness for social and health care issues.
I also care for my disabled husband who has been unable to work consistently for several years. I have been the sole support of our family until this past month when he finally began to receive SSDI. He, too, paid taxes into that system and his monthly benefit is proportional to what he was able to pay in.
We do not feel we are “victims”. We want to contribute to society. We worked hard before we became disabled. We are entitled to the benefits we have paid for with our taxes all our adult lives. I personally believe that it is society’s responsibility to help those who need it, just as it is our individual responsibility to help others. I spent my career caring for people who were sick or needed help. I still help others by answering medical questions online and writing a blog discussing topics related to chronic illness. I contribute to the welfare of society in the ways that I am still able.
Finally, I believe that the president’s responsibility is to everyone in this country: rich, poor, men, women, gay, straight, all races, all levels of socio-economic status, every part of this country. President Obama understands this, but more importantly his actions reflect it.
I am proud to be one of the 47%. Rather than victim and leech on the system, I am a person who needs help after a lifetime of helping others. I am someone who believes compassion is the most important value that can be brought to this presidential race, one area in which you appear to be sadly lacking. I hope that you can hear some of what I and so many others are saying to you. Rather than write me off as not worthy of your consideration, consider that you may have something to learn yourself.
Caryl Mauk, RN, MSN