Conservative David Frum on the 47% Video

For understanding how Mitt Romney could so grotesquely and flippantly defame 47% of the American population without a gasp from those gathered to listen to him, Frum offers white racism as a starting point:

Start with this data point:

When you ask white Americans to estimate the black population of the United States, the answer averages out at nearly 30%. Ask them to estimate the Hispanic population, and the answer averages out at 22%.

So when a politician or a broadcaster talks about 47% in “dependency,” the image that swims into many white voters’ minds is not their mother in Florida, her Social Security untaxed, receiving Medicare benefits vastly greater than her lifetime tax contributions; it is not their uncle, laid off after 30 years and now too old to start over. No, the image that comes into mind is minorities on welfare.

This is a conservative, not a liberal, making this salient point. My own take is that conservatives need a narrative for explaining the demographic shifts in the country, and why so many people support President Obama. Their answer cannot be the straightforward one: the country as a whole is becoming more like California (higher educated, more urban than suburban and rural, more feminist, less fundamentalist, and less white). This truth cannot be faced squarely. Instead, it must be warped into a morally repulsive fright face: Obama’s natural base vote–about 47% of the population and growing–obviously must consist of zombies and parasites.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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