Memo to Mitt Romney: better wise up, boyo. Fast. You're in a political full-contact steel-cage death match with an opponent who isn't above using brass knuckles and referees who have the keen eyesight of Mr. Magoo. If you don't figure things out, you're toast, and most of our country's productive classes are going right down the tube with you.
So you're writing off 47 percent of the American public? It doesn't matter if you were talking to the Hoi Polloi; a roomful of H.L Menkens, all nodding, nattering and hoisting glasses of 20-year-old scotch; or the conservative wing of the DAR. It was a boneheaded remark. You could, should, and have done better. And for the remaining 48 days of this sorry excuse for a presidential campaign, you need to bring your "A" game if you intend to win.
Believe me, conservatives feel your frustration. With the economy where it is - the lowest percentage of Americans working in the past 30 years, and no relief in sight despite the Fed's best attempt to kick-start things by moving money out the door with a bulldozer - you should have been a shoo-in. But you're not, and nitwit remarks like the one you made in Florida in May are among the reasons why.
It's worse because it's clear what you meant: as the percentage of Americans benefiting from government largesse grows, they will outnumber and eventually overwhelm those taxpayers who are tasked with financing the system. The problem is exacerbated by the Democrat party leaders who, forgetting FDR's admonition about the dangers of a permanent dole, seem to see the distribution of benefits as the key to perpetuating themselves in power: open vote-buying, the scale of which would have staggered the likes of Boss Tweed.
It was also clear from your remarks that you rightly fear the creation of a permanent dependent class as an instrument of political control - and its corollary: demonization of those who must finance the whole scheme, because they have the skills, brains, drive and maybe yes, the luck and background to make a good deal of money for themselves and those who work with them. After all, before a dime is spent by the government, it must either be taken from those who made it, or borrowed from those who seek a stake in our country's future, for good or ill.
But... to dismiss all those who receive payment from the government as in some way not "taking responsibility for their lives" is just plain...oh, what's the word? Idiotic. Yeah, that's right: idiotic. You're talking about parents who toiled for decades at the difficult and dangerous work of ensuring that America's nuclear deterrent would be effective, if ever called upon. You're denigrating people who put their lives at risk in the sticky places of the world to do their country's will. Or who worked in obscurity most of their lives to make certain that the mail came, that the check arrived, and the mortgage would be approved, that the water was fit to drink. All these took responsibility not only for their lives, but for the lives of countless others, and yes; they took government money. But to dismiss them because they don't have the same country club memberships you do is an insult, make no mistake. They do many necessary things, so that society may function in peace and tranquility. Most are productive and should be your allies, not targets for your abuse.
Your real target should not be these who labor in the public interest, but rather they who are neither temporary nor minor beneficiaries: people who have no plans to relinquish their call on the public purse - a drain made easier by recent changes to unemployment and welfare regulations. And crony corporations who seem to exist primarily to plunder the treasury, and who have a symbiotic relationship with the Democrat party: favored pets like Solyndra and Abound Solar; General Electric and the Service Employees International Union.
More than a switch of targets, what's needed is a clearer, and better articulated, vision of America under President Romney. For example, you might emphasize your faith in the dynamism, abilities and drive of the American people, rather than the pessimistic paternalism of the Democrats, who constantly tell us that we are too stupid, weak and beaten to do anything without the putatively benevolent hand of government. Talk about how you plan to solve the nation's problems; give the details. Don't be afraid to ask for sacrifice. Anyone smarter than a kumquat knows it's going to be necessary, and when challenged, Americans have always answered the call. So be straight about it. After four years and more of duplicity, dishonesty and doubt, it might be refreshing.
And you just might win.
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.