September 18, 2012

America's "bootstrap theocracy"

Mitt’s grotesque gamble

All Americans rely on government. But Romney knows that many of the "takers" don't see themselves that way

By David Sirota
Indeed, as Romney surely calculates, many Americans, no matter how much they rely on their government, categorically refuse to acknowledge their own dependence.

That’s not altogether surprising. Living in a Bootstraps Theocracy, we are subjected to a constant barrage of Randian mythology about self-reliance—a mythology that pretends success comes only from the individual, and is inhibited by the common. This has been the reigning American religion since at least the 1980s, if not before, and its dominance explains why when a president today dares tout our obvious reliance on each other, he is summarily attacked. It also explains Cornell University’s recent study on the so-called “submerged state” that shows that many Americans who receive direct cash benefits from the government nonetheless insist they have “not used a government social program.” As I wrote in a column last year about that problem:Certainly, some of that comes from the same ignoramuses who tell their congressional representatives to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” And some of it represents the willful dishonesty of self-professed conservatives who are too embarrassed to admit they utilize the government programs they purport to detest. However, the data also suggest that because so many submerged-state policies are successful and inconspicuous, many have come to reflexively define “government” as only those spectacular failures that fill the evening news.Taken together, Romney’s statements can be seen not as a gaffe, but as a careful—if grotesque—calculation. He understands that when he uses ugly makers-versus-takers rhetoric to portray all of our dependence on government as something horrible, many dependents will excitedly cheer him on. He knows that as they applaud, they will be convincing themselves into believing that they aren’t one of the “takers,” when, in fact, they—and all of us—are in some form. He knows, in short, that while he is directly insulting 47 percent of Americans, many of those 47 percent, plus many of the other 53 percent, will (wrongly) see it as an attack not on them, but on their supposed oppressors.

This is why for all the gleeful Democratic Party declarations since Romney’s speech leaked, the political ramifications of the Republican nominee’s comments aren’t so cut and dried. Sure, such a revealingly divisive and resentful comment should doom a presidential candidacy—especially one by a guy who already embodies the top-hat-and-monocle crowd. But the difference between “should” and “will” is the difference between a nation that understands how dependent it is on government and how such dependence is a hallmark of civilized society, and one that deludes itself into believing the makers-versus-takers fantasy that was first canonized in “Atlas Shrugged” and that now dominates American politics.
Comment:  Even more than blacks, Indians are the butt of the American myth of self-reliance. You've heard how it goes a thousand times: brave white Euro-Christians tamed the wilderness--and the wild Indians--through hard work and perseverance.

In reality, we took the land and gave it away to settlers--possibly the biggest government handout in US history. Indians bargained for treaty payments in exchange for this land--payments that often never came.

But most Americans think Indians are moochers: receiving free government health, education, and welfare payments while not paying any taxes. Meanwhile, the same Americans grow rich off the free land the government gave to their ancestors.

As the article notes, these Americans are blind to their own hypocritical dependence on government charity. All those blacks, Latinos, and Indians are getting handouts, they claim, but real Americans like Mitt Romney earned every cent they own.

What a delusional crock of excrement.

For more on Indians as welfare recipients, see "Why Do They Hate Us?" 2012 and Conservative Admits Welfare-Bashing Is Racial.


Anonymous said...

I've encountered an ad saying how even saying that you didn't build the roads is somehow offensive to the American work ethic.

People are stupid.

dmarks said...

Well, that is a wishful re-wording. Obama actually said that small business owners didn't build their businesses.