Obama in Virginia, and the 47 Percenters

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 21 2012 12:20 PM

Obama in Virginia, and the 47 Percenters

photo (24)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Presidential events are tightly controlled festivals of messaging, security, and cant. A crowd full of people holding home-made signs looks nice, but incoherent. Better to give all of the faithful identical banners, so the cameras capture nothing else.

In the overflow section of today's Obama rally, some wily supporters got past the strictures by messaging on their hands and event tickets. The preferred message: WE ARE THE 47%. Basu Shrestha and his wife arrived early at the rally, then stuck "WE ARE THE 47%" tickets above their eyeglasses.

"I pay income tax," said Shrestha, "but I'm holding this up out of solidarity. The president's looking out for a lot of people."

Obamanians can't get enough of the 47% message. Diminga Gomez, a naturalized citizen who came to the U.S. from Gambia, told me that she'd voted for George W. Bush in her first election, 2004. "And what did I get? I'm homeless now." She lived with a friend as she got her nursing certificate and paid for her kids' from her salary as a bus driver. "Romney, he writes me off. Obama, he's given me opportunities. My kids look up to him. They go from B students to getting As."

Standing at the other side of the baseball diamond, I met a voter who introduced herself as "Beverly Reader, M.D.," and wanted everyone to know that she was one of the 53 percent. "I make $300,000, and I'm ready to pay more taxes. I don't think people who make less than me are lazy."

(Photo by David Weigel)

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 9:26 AM These Lego Masterpieces Capture the Fear and Humor of the “Dark” Side
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.