"Safety Mitt"

In Romney’s response on CNN Wednesday morning, in which he said he wasn’t “concerned about the very poor,” he went on to make another remark we ought to examine.  I realize what he was trying to say, but what his full statement revealed is that he doesn’t understand why the country is on the verge of total collapse.  In stating his lack of concern, he mentioned that “we have a safety net” and that if it’s broken, he’ll “fix it.”  This is the problem with Romney:  We don’t need to “fix” the safety net.  Instead, we need to dismantle it.  What his reflex reveals is what conservatives have known about Romney from the outset:  He is a big government Republican who wants to “patch” the system, but he has no vision for overhaul of a welfare state that dehumanizes, and converts Americans into a permanent underclass, rather than to help them restore their dignity.

Conservatives understand that the welfare state “safety net” cannot be maintained in its current form because it functions too well as a hammock, but not so much as a trampoline. This difference is something Gingrich well understands, and was at the heart of his rebuke of Juan Williams in the Fox News Debate in South Carolina two weeks ago. Taking the approach of Gingrich was a stunningly successful rebuke of the leftist talking points that will predominate in the general election when the Republican nominee squares off against Barack Obama.  Romney doesn’t seem to grasp this, and it’s because he’s part of the Northeast liberal Republican establishment that tends to view the underclass as the object of their own well-intended welfare statism.  They think that people in poverty cannot lift themselves, and they concede the matter by collaborating on the growth of the welfare state with all the other liberals.

It is this fact that should worry you about Mitt’s alleged “electability,” and it further demonstrates why Mitt simply doesn’t get it.  He can’t identify this thinking, because his blue-blooded reflexes are in agreement with lefties’ views of the poor.  He sees them as the inevitable victims of life’s lottery, and not as people who should be launched into productive, self-sustaining lives of prosperity.  In effect, he sees them with the same underlying contempt as liberals actually feel, and expects them to remain a perpetual burden, with no hope of re-training, education, growth, development, or anything that would lead them to an earned prosperity.  If you want to understand the failings of Mitt Romney, it is here you must begin your journey, because what this small slip-up helps you to understand is that at his fundamental root, he suffers all the same moral and philosophical failings of a leftist.  He is one of them.

This is where his tendency toward allegedly benevolent big-government programs is born, and it is here that he aborts conservatism.  In his first reflex, when it counts most, his response is to push people toward a safety net built not of voluntary private actions by citizens in outreach to others among their own number, but to reckless big-spending government programs that convert individual poor people with momentary life issues into a permanent, institutionalized underclass that will never escape, and can never prosper, and must forever be a burden to their fellow men.  It is a hopeless, wilting view of humanity that surrenders to the notion that some people are helpless, from birth, by virtue of their environment, or both.  It assumes that people may be left in such circumstances until doomsday, with no expectations that they will ever lift themselves from that condition.

This giant hole in Mitt Romney’s understanding of conservatism is one of the larger reasons he cannot win in November 2012, because what it admits is a view of the poor much in line with Barack Obama’s, and it pays homage to the same faulty preconceptions about those who languish in our welfare system, where opportunities are seldom recognized, much less pursued.  It explains his inability to connect with conservatives too, because in this view of the poor, Romney prescribes precisely that which will not help those so-afflicted.  He’s admitting that he will be another governmental enabler, like the government programs in which the methadone substitutes for other chemicals, keeping the user strung out in lifelong stupor, but yielding no rehabilitation, either in addiction, or dignity. This is Mitt Romney, and it’s why after more than a half-decade in pursuit of the presidency, he still doesn’t “get it.”

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