What Republicans Must Do
Anyone who has not seen Steve Flesher's What Romney Must Do should read it immediately. His major point is that the Republicans make a huge mistake by insulting "the 47%." Sure, there are welfare queens who barter food stamps for color TVs, serial collectors of unemployment, etc. etc. Similarly, there are incompetent teachers who rely on the union as a shield, and public employees who retire on the job.
But such parasites are uncommon. Most people who have become dependent on the government would rather not be. Because they have been reduced to a state of desperation, it is not surprising that they cling to the lifeline of government subsidies, and will vote against threats to the handout. Most dependents would rather regain control of their lives, and most public employees would like to be proud of their work. However, it is an axiom of history that those who are close to the edge of survival are always wary of any innovation that might go wrong.
Similarly, social security recipients do not see themselves as drones. They were forced to pay into the system for years, with 15% of their pay taken for Social Security and Medicare (counting the employers' payments, as one must). They were deprived of investment autonomy and opportunity, and now it would be strange if they were not exceedingly sensitive to any threat to their retirement.
The real problem is that the Obamacrats, abetted by the Republican establishment, have done serious damage to the economy, and are preventing people from earning the dollars necessary to control their own lives. The establishment then buys their votes with pennies in relief payments.
This having happened, it is both foolish electoral strategy and inhumane to threaten to cut off the stream of pennies. As Flesher says, channeling Sarah Palin, the focus must be on economic revival that will end the need for the relief payments. All but a few want to avoid dependency, but they must have confidence that their leaders can chart a course to economic revival, and are not just a new group of looters.
So while they are at it, the Republicans, if they are to survive as a party, must oppose the real welfare queens - the crony capitalists and Washington lobbyists who are happy with economic decline as long as they can make money from the ruin. The worst political news for the Republicans last week was not any comment by Mitt; it was Pawlenty's decision to become the mouthpiece for the big banks, a group that has resisted sensible ideas for resolving the crisis of the past four years.
Finally, one should read Flesher for his link to Conservatives4Palin. I had not been aware of this group, but it is clear that if the Republican brand is so damaged that the party cannot even defeat Obama, perhaps the worst president in U.S. history, then new electoral arrangements will become necessary. Palin is emerging as the most honest and sensible of the political lot, and whether or not she ever runs again as a candidate, she will be a king or queenmaker.
James V. DeLong is the author of Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic