Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Is Anti-American Values Candidate Mitt Romney Lying About Democrats and Equal Opportunity

Why Is Anti-American Values Candidate Mitt Romney Lying About Democrats and Equal Opportunity

So Mitt Romney, writes Thomas Edsall in The New York Times, wants to make the election about entitlements vs. opportunity.  He warns darkly against a government that “provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk.” This is the sort of thing that used to scare the bejesus out of Democrats and still does frighten some of them, but it needn’t. Romney’s error in this framing is one Republicans often make—assuming that they are the “real Americans,” and Democrats are in some way fake Americans, and therefore all of middle America must agree with them.

Romney’s approach is clever up to a point. It does successfully blend more traditional Republicanism with Tea Party resentment (reflecting, perhaps, the way in which this supposedly “new” Tea Party is really just the same old anger at poor people and nonwhite people, outfitted anew in sans culottes). He uses the lie Republicans have used for many, many elections, that liberals and Democrats insist not on equality of opportunity but equality of result. And he invokes “government dependency”—a well-turned locution I must confess, those being two pretty unappealing words to most people. If he becomes the nominee, and if he can get most Americans to see the election as a choice between the candidate who wants Big Daddy government to look after every aspect of your life and the candidate who insists on your freedom to pursue wealth and liberate yourself from any obligation to those below you, then he’ll be in pretty good shape.

But there exist mountains of evidence that most Americans don’t think the way Republicans want them to. As Edsall notes: “The American public is highly conflicted on the subject of providing aid to people in need. While strongly opposed to ‘welfare,’ decisive majorities support more spending in key public policy areas. Polls conducted since 1972 by the General Social Survey show that by margins of two to one, voters consistently say too little is spent on the poor, on education, on health care, on drug treatment—the list is long.”

And that’s just spending on the poor. Spending on the middle class enjoys far greater support. “Welfare” as we once knew it being largely off the table as a divisive political issue, the Republicans really don’t have much material to work with here. In one sense, the entire GOP approach on these issues since Ronald Reagan’s time has been to hide the actual agenda because Republicans know most people don’t agree with them. A famous memo from Paul O’Neill’s Treasury Department in early 2001 to the Bush White House told the new president and others to be careful about juxtaposing tax cuts with spending because “the public prefers spending on things like health and education over cutting taxes.”

Conservatives will not and cannot argue with the reality of Democrats on public policy and the concept of equal opportunity. Democrats want everyone to have a CHANCE to prove themselves and to achieve. Because most Americans believe the same thing - it is a challenge that most Americans are personally familiar with through their own life experience - so the integrity challenged conservatives twist that to mean wanting everyone to have equal outcomes by force of law. That is yet another conservative BIG LIE. Not to mention how cowardly it is that they will not have an honest debate about the subject.