Wait, Now I’m Not A Conservative Either?

I’m used to being called a RINO (Republican In Name Only) because, well, I am. See, I think of myself as a conservative and the GOP is simply the most useful vehicle to try and further my conservative beliefs.

Until recently (last night in fact) it was my understanding that conservatives didn’t write anyone off as hopeless, unpersuadable and certainly not out of our scope of concern. Yet based on a lot reaction I’m seeing from conservatives to Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks apparently we (maybe it’s “they”) do . See, I can’t sign on for this approach to people and if it’s now conservative dogma, I’m out.

I want to shrink government, seem American’s renew their faith in themselves and pretty much check off all the economic, national security and even some social issues. But I’m am not down with the idea that we write people off as hopelessly beyond the conservative message because they are either now dependent on government support or don’t pay any income tax.

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

“And I mean the President starts off with 49, 49…he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. 47% of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.

“So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every 4 years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

“What I have to do is convince the 5% to 10% that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

There’s so much wrong with what he said it’s hard to know where to start.

But let me let this guy take a shot at it.

In the richest country in the history of the world, this
Obama economy has crushed the middle class.  Family income has
fallen by $4,000 , but health insurance premiums are higher.
Food prices are higher.  Utility bills are higher, and gasoline
prices, they’ve doubled.  Today more Americans wake up in
poverty than ever before. Nearly one out of six Americans is
living in poverty.  Look around you — these aren’t strangers.
These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans.  His
policies have not helped create jobs.  They’ve depressed them,
and this I can tell you about where President Obama would take
America.  His plan to put taxes on small businesses won’t not
add jobs.  It will eliminate them.

Or maybe this guy?
“Over the last four years, this president has pushed Republicans and Democrats about as far apart as they can go. And now he and his allies are pushing us all even further apart by dividing us into groups. He demonizes some. He panders to others. His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then try to cobble together 51% of the pieces.”
Who this commie-pinko worrying about people in poverty  and dividing America into small pieces? Just some guy named Mitt Romney way back in August of 2012 when he accepted the GOP nomination.  His entire speech is peppered with such exhortations. and not a single mention of writing off almost half the country. The second quote is Romney from earlier in August, 2012.
Now many conservatives are cheering that the “real Romney” has been spotted in the purloined video. I guess his concern for “our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans” only shows up when others write the words for him? Personally, I don’t believe Romney is indifferent to the struggles of the poor or wouldn’t want to do all he could to create a climate where prosperity would spread across all income groups. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s a lousy politician. But let’s not forget this isn’t his first foray into jumbled thinking about how conservatives approach the poor.
In the end, we have only his words to judge him, so which is it Mitt?
The real sin of Romney’s statement isn’t the insulting, uncaring tone. No it’s worse than that. What he said about the number of people dependent on government and their voting patterns is simply wrong as a factual matter.
How many people in that 47% are retired people? How many are folks who work long hours, multiple jobs to break even while raising a family? In this economy how may are people whose business have gone under, who can’t find work that pays as much as the job they lost? How many are among the millions who have disapeared from the workforce because Obama is killing the economy? I thought we conservatives were championing those people’s cause. Yet in one fell swoop, Romney lumps them all together with people who among the permanent underclass. And conservatives cheer this language?

What bothers me most is the reaction of my fellow (I guess) conservatives. They are ready for a “Takers vs. Makers” throw down. And that’s where I need to part company. Yes, the government is too large, too ingrained in our lives and too many people look for even more in their lives.  Stopping and reversing that isn’t going to happen because we finally let loose on “the takers”, it’s an ideological argument we have to win by showing that we offer a better way.

People act in their self-interest most of the time. Liberals say, “You’re a little guy in a big and dangerous world, let us take care of this for you”. It’s a powerful appeal compared to “You need to work hard and if you do and things work out the rewards will be greater”. Most people will take the way they perceive to be easier and that’s liberal’s ‘no worries’ line of entitlement.

It would be nice if everyone had an ingrained sense of self and pride that made them crave the challenges of self-sufficiency. Obviously that’s not the case or we wouldn’t be in this mess. So how do we win this argument for the soul of America? Well, we don’t do it by writing off an insulting the very people we need to convince.

Conservatives are better when they put aside anger (even when it’s justified) and focus on optimism, an everlasting faith and belief in the power of the individual and a disgust not at people trapped in the inhumanity of the “safety net” but political movements that aim to put them there and keep them there.

One big problem that Republicans have in their critique of the non-tax paying class? Getting low income earners off the rolls was once considered a conservative achievement.

Yes, the Democratic convention was a freak show of losers who want nothing more than a cradle to grave government care. The fact of the matter is though, if you really think they represent 47% of the American people and are forever unreachable, you have a wildly pessimistic view of America. Maybe that’s the right view but if it is, then we’ve already lost. Under those circumstances maybe cursing the 47% is the way to go down. But if that’s now conservative dogma, I’m out.

Personally, I want to fight on but I want to fight on in the spirit of Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.


About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on September 18, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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