A message for party extremists

September 23, 2012|By TIM ROWLAND |

Certainly, there are people out there who have learned how to job the system. I guess. I don’t know any of them personally, but my ability to insulate myself from greater humanity is legend.

But it stands to reason that there are women out there who do indeed have extra kids to fatten their welfare checks and men who have parlayed a minor irritant into full-time disability.

The elevated unemployment rate may well serve the Democrats right; unemployment benefits that seemingly stretch out into forever do not exactly light a fire under people in search of work. Or at least a few people, whose self-esteem suffers no bruise from lying on a couch playing video games all afternoon.

How many clear-cut freeloaders do we have? Maybe 5 percent? 10? Who knows, but clearly it is not 47 percent of the nation.

It’s hard to know what to make of someone who would bitterly write off half of America as being impossible slackers and head cases whose ignorance is so institutionalized that they cannot possibly be reached.

It’s hard to know what to make of someone who would consider, as a viable option, leaving this segment of people behind, and only govern on behalf of people who have the proper proportion of good opportunity and good luck.

And I am not speaking about Mitt Romney. I think he’s a good man and don’t for a minute believe he actually feels this way. The problem, however, is that there is a loud and rich segment of people who do.

What the hidden camera that caught Romney’s 47-percent remark really revealed was the danger of lying down with the dogs, the uber-wealthy who finance these bipolar morality plays that we know as elections. The best guess is that Romney was only telling these people what they needed to hear to keep the cash flowing.

That there are people for whom this trash-the-peons message would resonate ought to be what gets people to sit up and take notice.

It is a group that is so self-absorbed with their own kingliness that they ceaselessly whine that, of all things, they are not getting enough access to the candidate. This usually comes after they have just had their photos snapped with him, and had the opportunity to make a personal pitch for their individual interests. Both Romney and President Obama have been the subject of news stories in which big donors vehemently complain that the two men haven’t taken the time to adequately slurp their boots.

More than a few conservative commentators have pointed out that jettisoning the outcasts is the exact opposite of what the Republican Party used to stand for — which was equal opportunity for all.

This breed of conservative, of course, is now persona non grata in the leaner (it seems to be shedding supporters by the day) and meaner GOP. They are the sellouts, or the, God forbid, moderates. We see this at the local level all the time, where even a taxpayer-funded breakfast for a hungry kid is roundly booed.

What have we become? Who are we when we say that someone’s child doesn’t deserve to eat, and when did it become OK to even suggest this? What of his opportunity in life?

No one needs to be reminded that Romney was an equal-opportunity moderate before being required to worship at the altar of red meat. And if he loses this election, the results could very well be catastrophic for the party, which will immediately conclude that he lost because was not conservative enough. That will start an internal war between the old party and the new party, and if the new party of the extreme right wins, it is hard to see how the party will compete on a national level going forward.

At least it will be a fascinating argument to hear: We didn’t win when we insulted 47 percent of America, so obviously we need to insult even more. And to compound matters, the groups that the new-breed Republicans seem most intent on dissing just happen to be the fastest growing voting blocs in the nation. How is this supposed to work?

Well, we know how it works, because we’ve seen the movie before. The GOP will become extremist outcasts, and instead of governing from the middle, Democrats will see this as a message to flock to the extreme left. At which point, the cycle will repeat, and a new breed of moderate Republicans will come to power.

Short term, any old fire-eater can get elected. But long term, we are not a nation of extremes, we are a nation that gravitates to the sensible middle. For obvious reasons, that’s a message that the extremists on both sides don’t want to hear.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. His email address is

The Herald-Mail Articles