Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The tin ears of the Democrats

What were Democrats thinking when they put together this video that played at the convention with this line "Government is the only thing that we all belong to."
I understand that they're trying to expand on the arguments that Obama was making in his "you didn't build that" speech, but someone wrote that line and read it without anyone saying, "Hey, don't say we belong to the government." That's not how Americans view their relationship to the government. But, apparently, there was no one who even understood enough to realize that this was a very bad way to phrase their argument. They just don't get it.

They don't seem to sense that there is a difference between government and country. This is the mindset that gives us the Life of Julia. When you have such a worldview, why shouldn't people start looking to the government to take from others to give us everything we need? There is not pride in individual accomplishment when you can have a frame of mind that doesn't see anything remarkable as saying "we all belong to the government.

Allahpundit links to this article by Yuval Levin that explores the view of government that Obama was putting forth in that infamous speech.
This remarkable window into the president’s thinking shows us not only a man chilly toward the potential of individual initiative, and not only a man deluded about the nature of his opponents and their views, but also (and perhaps most important) a man with a staggeringly thin idea of common action in American life.

The president simply equates doing things together with doing things through government. He sees the citizen and the state, and nothing in between — and thus sees every political question as a choice between radical individualism and a federal program.

But most of life is lived somewhere between those two extremes, and American life in particular has given rise to unprecedented human flourishing because we have allowed the institutions that occupy the middle ground — the family, civil society, and the private economy — to thrive in relative freedom. Obama’s remarks in Virginia shed a bright light on his attitude toward that middle ground, and in that light a great deal of what his administration has done in this three and a half years suddenly grows clearer and more coherent, and even more disconcerting.

Again and again, the administration has sought to hollow out the space between the individual and the state. Its approach to the private economy has involved pursuing consolidation in key industries — privileging a few major players that are to be treated essentially as public utilities, while locking out competition from smaller or newer firms. This both ensures the cooperation of the large players and makes the economy more manageable and orderly. And it leaves no one pursuing ends that are not the government’s ends. This has been the essence of the administration’s policies toward automakers, health insurers, banks, hospitals, and many others.

It is an attitude that takes the wealth-creation capacity of our economy for granted, treats the chaotic churning and endless combat of competing firms (which in fact is the source of that capacity) as a dangerous distraction from essential public goals, and considers the business world to be parasitic on society — benefiting from the infrastructure and resources provided by the genuine common action of the state. Of course, the state’s benevolence is made possible precisely by the nation’s wealthiest citizens, but the president seems to see that as simply an appropriate degree of “giving something back.” His words and his administration’s actions imply that he views the government as the only genuine tribune of public desires, and therefore seeks to harness the private economy to the purposes and goals of those in power.
When you have that mindset, you don't even hear how saying "we belong to" government.

Now that the Republicans are making fun of this video, the Obama campaign is trying to distance themselves from the video and blame the city of Charlotte. So what part of the video do they object to? Just the phrasing or the sentiment behind it?

Jim Geraghty notes,
A poorly-written bit of narration for some standard-issue filler convention video? Or a revealing moment of their core philosophy?

If it is merely a poorly-expressed comment, that creates a false impression, it is rather amazing how often these things happen to the Democrats: “You didn’t build that.” “The private sector is doing fine.” “Our plan worked.”

UPDATE: Mary Katharine Ham links to this video from Revealing Politics asking Democrats at the convention how they feel about "belonging to the government." Apparently, they feel just awesome, super-duper.
So the tin ear isn't limited to a few people making a video at the DNC. It seems to be the general feeling of Democrats in general. And they don't see any problem with saying they "belong" to the government.

There it is, folks. This election is a definite choice.

4 comments:

Chris said...

Cut from the same cloth as Ozymandias-on-the-Potomac's own worldview:

L'etat, c'est moi!

Ken Ashford said...

Rrrrrriiiight.

Just like the socialist Abraham Lincoln said:

"A government OF THE PEOPLE...."

But seriously, what is the problem with this?

Betsy Newmark said...

Ken, notice which direction the ownership goes. "A government of the people" is owned by the people - "We the people...." created this government. Saying "We belong to the government" has the ownership going the other way.

pumping-irony said...

If the Dems believe we belong to the government and approve that message as being the one that defines who they are and what they stand for, why are they walking it back now and blaming it on someone else? Maybe even though this is what they actually think, they don't want anyone to know it? Why not?