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Mitch Daniels’s Election Post-Mortem: Mitt Misreads Dependency

In perhaps the best short critique of Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment, outgoing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels offers that Mr. Romney

. . . was right about the origin of his problem but wrong about its essence. Without doubt, we have a significant number of Americans for whom dependence and something for nothing have become a way of life. But they were far from 47% in number, and would have voted for the incumbent President under any circumstances.

. . . .

that Mr. Romney “was right about the origin of his problem but wrong about its essence. Without doubt, we have a significant number of Americans for whom dependence and something for nothing have become a way of life. But they were far from 47% in number, and would have voted for the incumbent President under any circumstances.”

(Via Powerline picks.)  Read the whole thing.  Now, Romney was right to address the dependency issue, but he did so in a manner at odds with the dominant strain today of conservative thought.

A real conservative would worry about the growing culture of dependency, but express his belief that most Americans would embrace free-market opportunities should they be made available.  A Republican needs to be able to talk, as Ronald Reagan did, as Jack Kemp did, how conservative policies increase those opportunities and so reduce dependency, but in terms which can really command the assent of people who do not devote much attention to politics, even if they are currently dependent on a federal check for their subsistence.

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10 Comments

  1. Yeah, well, the GOP also has to regain credibility as a party of free markets, individual liberty, and limited Constitutional government. After two disastrous presidencies by the patrician Bush family… who embraced massive tax increases (Bush 41), vast expansions of the welfare state (43) and long, ill-considered foreign adventures (43); people just don’t really believe the Republicans are the party of small Government any more.

    And Mitt, because of Romneycare, had a real difficult time as a standard bearer for that kind of philosophy. He may have believed in a reform agenda, but he didn’t articulate it clearly to voters.

    Comment by V the K — December 4, 2012 @ 6:08 am - December 4, 2012

  2. Also, Republicans have gotten gun-shy about articulating big, bold ideas; like a flat tax, or eliminating Federal Departments. Reagan ran on big, bold ideas like reforming the tax code and defeating the Soviet Union. But Romney’s ideas seemed timid, like nibbling around the edges of the tax code and continuing the Bush-Obama foreign policy.

    I think Republicans are afraid to put out bold ideas because they know the MFM will attack and slaughter them. Newt Gingrich is the exception, of course. But Mitt Romney ran a rather timid campaign where he put forth timid ideas… and the MFM attacked him anyway. When all else fails, the MFM will just make sh-t up; like the ‘War on Women.’

    Comment by V the K — December 4, 2012 @ 6:44 am - December 4, 2012

  3. i take it then, V_the_K you will NOT be supporting Jeb Bush in 2016? ;-)

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — December 4, 2012 @ 11:37 am - December 4, 2012

  4. Jeb Bush may potentially be the greatest President in the history of the Republic; but after the damage his dad and his brother did, he has no credibility. No one wants to take the chance. Fair or not, the Bush name is now synonymous with Big Government Republican.

    Comment by V the K — December 4, 2012 @ 11:46 am - December 4, 2012

  5. “”I believe that the self-inflicted fatal blow of Mr. Romney’s statement came among Americans who find themselves in receipt of some form of government transfer, but reject or even despise the notion that they are permanent parasites for doing so. Think of people on Social Security earned through a lifetime of honest toil; of men thrown out of work by a reeling, mismanaged economy and desperately trying to find new employment while on unemployment insurance; of young families, including active duty military personnel, working hard but still accepting food stamps which, for the moment, they legitimately need to provide adequately for their families.”

    … Millions of Americans thought they heard Mr. Romney label them as parasites on society, and said not ‘Yes, and I deserve it’ but ‘Hell, no, that’s not me.’ Whatever he intended, the candidate deeply offended countless citizens” and “the blunder was never corrected and in fact was exacerbated, by a staggering tone-deafness to the language and the fears of average Americans.” “

    Comment by Passing By — December 4, 2012 @ 12:13 pm - December 4, 2012

  6. “Let’s stop the insanity by suspending the right to vote of any American who is on welfare. Once they get off welfare and are self-sustaining, they get their right to vote restored. No American on welfare should have the right to vote for tax increases on those Americans who are working and paying taxes to support them. That’s insane. In addition to suspending a welfare recipient’s right to vote, we also need to get our voting system straightened out and eliminate voter fraud. We need to ensure that only Americans vote by requiring polling places to validate the identification of each voter. It shouldn’t take a Motown guitar slayer to come up with these common-sense bargaining chips before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy. How about it, GOP?” – Ted Nugent, writing for the Moonie Times.

    Comment by rusty — December 4, 2012 @ 12:26 pm - December 4, 2012

  7. A Republican needs to be able to talk, as Ronald Reagan did, as Jack Kemp did, how conservative policies increase those opportunities….

    Conservative principles are sound, and they’ll appeal to all demographics; there are no worries here. What Republicans–and Conservatives–must do, though, is actually carry that message to all Americans–not subdivided by demographic, but to all Americans–by talking directly to them in their neighborhoods, on local TV and radio stations, in local newspapers.

    Just tossing a speech over the podium at an NAACP convention, or having a son make a few Spanish language speeches in one state, or holding rallies and hoping a broad reach of Americans show up simply won’t cut it.

    Eric Hines

    Comment by E Hines — December 4, 2012 @ 3:48 pm - December 4, 2012

  8. Think of people on Social Security earned through a lifetime of honest toil;

    Or, more precisely, thirty-year-old men who want to sit on the couch in a diaper all day rather than working.

    of men thrown out of work by a reeling, mismanaged economy and desperately trying to find new employment while on unemployment insurance;

    Or, more precisely, people demanding “Obama bucks” instead of working.

    of young families, including active duty military personnel, working hard but still accepting food stamps which, for the moment, they legitimately need to provide adequately for their families.

    Or, more precisely, white liberal hipsters using them to buy cases of wine and organic food for fancy dinner parties.

    Now, if rusty and Passing By really cared about “the poor”, why would they be demanding government funds be given to these people instead of “the poor”?

    Or is it less that they CARE about “the poor” than it is that they use “the poor” as an excuse for them and their fellow white liberals to mooch, loot, and live off taxpayer dollars?

    This is how one deals with liberals and their sob stories; you simply point out the reality of what they and their fellow Obama supporters are actually doing. Liberals lie and obfuscate to cover up the fact that liberals are moochers and looters who want to steal taxpayer dollars and live high on the hog themselves.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 4, 2012 @ 3:54 pm - December 4, 2012

  9. NDT – the fool in the diapers is somewhat of an anomaly (but not anomalous enough).

    The bigger problem, illustrated by the article you linked about hipsters on food stamps is that they have no sense of shame.

    I left home at 18 and worked three jobs until I found a full-time spot. That was nothing remarkable – lot of people did the same thing. There were times when I’d get down to $5 in my bank account but I’d be damned if I told anyone. I would die before admitting that I couldn’t feed myself.

    But I’m OK with folks genuinely needing help but to admit in print that you’d “graduated art school” and, at 30, still needed to feed at the trough… aaarrrgggghhhh.

    Daniels has a point, though… some people on the dole have little choice. Most of us get by best we can and unless we possess some skill particularly in demand, we take what we can get. And if one happens to work at some low-wage job in an underwear factory (I read of same in some small town in Alabama) that closes due to offshoring then one is pretty well screwed.

    If your $10/hr sufficed to pay for shelter and electricity and an old junker, you’re not very well situated to up and move somewhere to start over without help.

    Mitt’s right that professional leaches weren’t going to vote for him in any case but I’m sure his comment probably did rub some struggling people the wrong way.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — December 4, 2012 @ 7:07 pm - December 4, 2012

  10. Most of the regulars know about my ‘strays’ as I tease them. We talked about how to game the system for food stamps (I don’t claim them on taxes, they report they’re ‘renting’ paying for their R&B by keeping the Hermitage clean, etc.) One works at a convience store, so basically it’s 3 adults on 1.5 incomes.

    The youngest, mearly 25, simply said, “We aren’t that desperate to need food stamps.” My heart soared. For every Levi, I hope there’s an Amber who actually gets it.

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 5, 2012 @ 8:06 am - December 5, 2012

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