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 Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 23 2014 10:30 AM Which Came First, the Word "Chicken" or the Word "Egg"?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.