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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

You Can’t Persuade People You Disdain



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Over on the homepage, I have a long article on how wishy-washy voters may come to the conclusion that Republicans and conservatives are mean and nasty because . . . every once in a while, some Republicans and conservatives are mean and nasty. I think the most important point is that if we want certain groups of voters to consider our ideas, join our movement, and vote for our candidates, then we can’t speak of them with contempt.

The “47 percent”: In Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks, the worst line was, “My job is not to worry about those people — I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Even if there was some valid lament in there about a culture of dependency, the phrasing was about as harmful as possible, because it suggested that as president Romney wouldn’t “worry” about those people — that is, wouldn’t govern with their needs in mind, because he deemed them uninterested in self-sufficiency.

If you believe that conservative ideas work, you hopefully believe that the formula — a decent education, hard work, prudence, thrift, and a dollop of ambition — can and will work for anyone and everyone. “Some of you people are just hopeless” is an awful political slogan, and one that actually strengthens the case for liberalism: If a significant chunk of the citizenry is indeed unable or unwilling to care for itself — not merely failing to do so in response to incentives created by liberal policies — then some entity must step in to do that, and the state is probably best equipped for this task.

Most conservatives’ objection to the culture of dependency is that it results in a waste of human potential: in jobs gone unfilled, in able-bodied men and women not pursuing something better and not becoming role models for their children because they’ve been conditioned to believe that a government check is the best they can achieve. We hate the culture of dependency because we love those trapped in it and want to see them living better, happier, more fulfilling lives. If we truly hated them, we would want to keep them there.


Tags: Republicans


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