George Graham

Who Make up That 36 Percent?

Time and again I see some poll on TV that shows about 36 percent of Americans are diametrically opposed to the rest of the country. These folks don’t want health care or food stamps or public schools – or just about anything the rest of us want.

They want war. They think invading Iraq was a terrific idea and would like to see America keep troops there indefinitely.  They would like to bomb Iran, invade Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and whatever other country they happen to dislike at the moment.

They think we should all carry guns and be free to shoot anyone who looks threatening (such as young, black guys). They would put gays and lesbians in prison (or at least in rehab), ban abortion and birth control, prevent minorities, students, the old and the sick from voting…

And, boy!, do they hate Obamacare !!!

Who are these people?

Could any of my neighbors be among them? Could this crazy crowd include John, the pastor’s son from the church next door, who is always so ready to lend a hand when I need it? I don’t think he likes President Obama. His young son certainly doesn’t. The kid is mad at the president for cutting the space program – among a whole lot of other things.

What about Marvin, who lives a few houses away with his smiling wife Sandy? I know Marvin resents those “welfare queens” and “idle bums” who refuse to work and collect such government benefits as food stamps and disability payments. He told me how he had to pull himself up by his own bootstraps and he figures everyone else should darned well do the same.

And Larry, who with his wife Mona lives across the road from Marvin and Sandy… Could he be part of that 36 percent? Larry used to be a supervisor of those air traffic controllers that Ronald Reagan booted, and he was involved in breaking that historic strike. If there’s one thing Larry can’t abide it’s a trade union.

These are not crazy people. At least, they don’t seem to be. They usually seem quite normal when I talk with them. Indeed, they’re nice people, good neighbors.

Even our neighbor Rickie, who is, well, somewhat unusual, couldn’t be nicer. Sandra tells me he was really upset when he heard I was in the hospital with my heart problems. He sometimes drags my garbage bins and trash cans in from the curb for me. And one day he appeared with an armful of frozen steaks he had bought from a truck, eager to share them with us – and, no, he wouldn’t think of taking our money.

Rickie confided to me one day that he was thinking of joining a group on the internet that was protecting the rights of downtrodden Anglo-Saxon Americans like him! I was stunned. No, Rickie, I begged. Think it over. You don’t want to be a White Power creep, do you?

Now, he was stunned. White Power? Surely that wasn’t what those nice people on the internet were about?

Look, if a bunch of white supremacists can sweet talk poor Rickie into believing they’re a worthy cause, anything can happen in this world.

So, when I see Senator Mike Lee of  Utah and that awful Ted Cruz, the Texas senator (in photo above), appearing in those TV ads, begging folks to sign a petition to block Obamacare “before it’s too late,” I know a lot of nice, ordinary folks will probably sign the stupid thing.

It makes no difference that the president’s health plan is a done deal. It makes no difference they stand to benefit immeasurably from the new health reform law. They don’t care that if they somehow succeed in blocking Obamacare, they will be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. They’re vulnerable to the kind of hate-filled nonsense Lee and Cruz are peddling.

Why? To tell you the truth, I just don’t know.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for