On the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, William McGurn is almost ready to acknowledge that users of the social safety net are human beings deserving of empathy as well as fellow Americans -- at least under certain circumstances:
Several months ago, while flipping channels with the remote, I stopped on an MTV show about a working mom whose whole life was upended when her partner announced that he was splitting. It caught my attention because this mother lived in a nice apartment that looked like one in my suburban New Jersey town, and she was applying for food stamps.Wow -- they're not all shiftless bums using your money to buy T-bone steaks! Some of them actually live in houses! In the suburbs!
This wasn't your caricature "taker" -- the woman had a real job.
With her partner leaving, however, she could no longer afford the rent, and she would have trouble providing for her two young boys alone. As she walked up to an office to sign up for food stamps, she said something like, "I can't believe I am applying for public assistance."Ahhh, but not to worry -- this apparent angel of the gutter may not be a parasite, but she's had parasitism thrust upon her:
As it turned out, the reason her partner could abandon those two young boys is because they weren't his. He'd been supporting another man's children, and apparently decided he'd had enough.So there's really no reason for right-wingers to rethink their unswerving antipathy to government social programs, or at least the ones that aren't plutocrat-targeted. The Republican Party doesn't have to change its message -- it just has to persuade moms on food stamps that they'd be better off if their kids didn't have enough food to eat:
The conservative might feel vindicated here: Had the mom been married to and living with her children's father, chances are she and her boys would not find themselves so vulnerable.That's what you need, ma'am! A shelf of libertarian-leaning books, not food for your kids' table! Feed your kids on Randian dreams!
Being correct, however, isn't the same thing as being persuasive....
Conservatives' top priority should be promoting an alternative -- that in a highly competitive, global economy, the only real economic security for ordinary Americans is the security of opportunity....
It can be done. Three decades ago, Milton and Rose Friedman illustrated the benefits of capitalism to millions of ordinary citizens through their television series and book, "Free to Choose." We need a similar popular effort today, to bring home the benefits of the free market to Americans who think it works only for the kind of folks who work at Bain Capital -- or write columns for The Wall Street Journal.
That seems to be the principal lesson right-wingers have learned from the 2012 elections: their message was flawless and inerrant -- only the delivery was flawed. Will Republicans change? Nahhh. They still don't think they need to.
Victor Davis Hanson doesn't think there was anything wrong in 2012 with the message or the messenger -- especially the messenger:
Mitt Romney was a glittering Sir Galahad who, given his impressive horse, armor, and lance, along with his decency and piety, assumed that he could win a joust in a fair charge against the other team's knight. Instead he waded into a sudden fray where he was swarmed, mobbed, cut off, pulled off his magnificent steed, had his matchless armor yanked away by a mob of foot soldiers, and then, once stripped clean, was clubbed and maced beyond recognition.Poor noble fellow! Politics -- he was led to believe it would be beanbag! Can you fault him if he was tragically mistaken?
Glittering Mitt of the Impressive Lance was brought low by, of course, the Evil Media:
The fact is that the liberal press is insidious. The worst network news anchors still have larger ratings on most nights than does The O'Reilly Factor. NPR, with 900 stations, draws more listeners than most right-wing talk hosts. It does not matter much that no one watches MSNBC if they watch NBC.... When you tally together the cultural influence of the NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, PBS, CBS, ABC, and NBC, and then consider the slant of a USA Today or People magazine, it all adds up.The secret weapon of liberal fascism: People magazine!
And even book tours have a potentially election-tipping liberal bias!
When an author appears on Fox, he is dismissed as rank book plugger; when he goes on NPR's Talk of the Nation, he is a literary figure.That alone must have been worth half a million votes in Ohio!
Hanson differs from McGurn because he doesn't experience even a hint of fellow-feeling when he sees people on public assistance. They must be brutally crushed -- if only the liberal media would allow it. They are The Other, particularly the filthy Messkins in his home state of California:
"Family values" where I live means a sort of patron/client La Familia relationship in which the government becomes the patron and we are the clients who vote for it in exchange for state health care, food, housing, education, and legal help -- all means of addressing the injustice that "they" (rich people) have done to those arriving from Mexico. If anyone thinks the divorce, illegitimacy, or crime rates are lower here in Selma or Fresno and tens of thousands of Latino Catholics are just waiting for a nice word to vote for Rick Santorum, they need to have their heads examined. If anyone thinks Latinos in California just want the Dream Act and then, presto, will favor closed borders and a merit-based, ethnically blind system in which education, capital, and skills adjudicate who is let in the legal immigration line, they need doubly to have their heads examined.Don't hold back, Victor. Tell us how you really feel about non-whites who make less money than you.
Last night I went late into the local drug store. The guy ahead of me carefully separated his groceries: in one small pile was baby formula and milk that he paid with a California food card; in the other pile was a huge heap of regular Mountain Dew, three snack packs of Snickers, expensive Beef Jerky packs, and jumbo bags of M&M's. He held up the line for 10 minutes while he went through the two piles and checked out twice. But he did apologize for the delay. I offered to pay cash for his milk and formula to expedite his cash purchase of 20,000 calories. I don't think he voted for Mitt Romney.So we're literally back to parasites buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. That's a GOP message for 2016? Well, I guess it worked for Reagan.
Nor did the other guy at the Selma Save Mart the day before who got into a new Honda Accord (6-cylinder, no less) after buying 2 cartloads of subsidized food. It may be callous and rude to say that lots more Americans look to government after 2008, but it happens to be true. What Romney said before and after the election may have seemed insensitive and in some details inexact, but his basic drift was correct.