Skip to comments.The real GOP Vision: It’s not a choice between “You’re on your own” and The Life of Julia
Posted on 11/19/2012 7:05:56 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Ill bet you $10,000 that this term doesnt get a round of applause from focus groups of voters struggling in these hard economic times: self-reliance.
Throughout this campaign, Barack Obama cleverly set himself up as the alternative to a straw man who thought everyone in America could make it on his own, with no help from anyone.
Were told by our opponents that since government cant do everything, it should do almost nothing, Obama said at a Miami campaign event in October. Its sort of a Youre on your own philosophy. If you dont have health insurance, hope you dont get sick. If you cant afford to start a business or go to college, borrow money from your parents. (Ignore the fact that Mitt Romney, who helped countless neighbors and friends over the years, certainly understood that no human being can survive without others.)
Unfortunately, for plenty of Americans, including those who are or would like to be self-reliant, Obamas message seemed to resonate. Too many Americans are personally familiar with skyrocketing health-care costs and were too hard hit by the recession to support their kids business or college dreams, and they saw their own reality or fears of what their lives could become acknowledged in Obamas statements. And for too many, who had either spent months searching for a job or knew someone else who had, it was hardly reassuring or true to their experience to be told they could make it on their own if they wanted to.
So why didnt the GOP fight back and say that they werent the party of Youre on your own?
Currently, the Democratic vision of government is so big and all-encroaching that its naïve of the GOP to think it can fight back by only talking politics. Republicans will never sell the message of smaller government unless they can sell a community-driven society, unless they can make a compelling case for the voluntary institutions that will thrive under a smaller government and take care of the needs that government currently attempts to meet.
Consider the now-infamous Life of Julia slideshow, in which the Obama campaign depicted how big government helped Julia from preschool (Head Start) to college (American Opportunity Tax Credit) to career (Lilly Ledbetter Act) to motherhood (Obamacare) to retirement (Social Security and Medicare). In many ways, this is an extremely unattractive portrayal. Julias life seems devoid of human relationships, except with her son (her sons father never makes an appearance, nor do any friends or neighbors even have cameos). She seems content to rely on government as the cornerstone of her life.
But to those struggling in these tough economic times (and to those who were struggling even before the fall of 2008), there is a genuine appeal to Julias life. She never faces dire financial straits. She goes to college, gets an interesting job, and has a child. She never declares bankruptcy. Nor does she risk going hungry, or having to sell all she owns to pay her medical bills. Her lifestyle may be tedious, but its also secure.
Its true that Republicans dont want to give Julia all the same government benefits that Obama does. But its also absolutely false that Julias only options are big government or a small, cramped life ridden with poverty.
Lets look at Julias life in a world with smaller government and robust community organizations and voluntary associations. Julia attends her churchs preschool, which is offered at no cost to those lacking financial resources. When its time for college, she works part-time (at a low-profit business that is able to exist because of fewer regulations), takes out loans, and wins a scholarship donated by a rich business owner who funds a program oriented toward helping smart low-income people go to college. After college, she finds her first job, thanks to a tip from a friend that a certain business is hiring. The first few years are rough, but thanks to frugal living, Julia hangs on and makes her loan payments. She makes as much as her male colleagues because she majored in a field known for good salaries, and because shes not afraid to ask for a raise. Furthermore, the strong moral foundations of this society make her boss consider it wrong to pay differently based on sex.
She and her partner together pay for the medical costs when she has her first child. Neighbors help the young couple out with supplies and babysitting assistance. As she gets older, and her little family becomes more prosperous, Julia is able to help others. Not only can she put her children through college, she helps other people achieve their dream and launch a small business by lending them money. When her best friend unexpectedly gets sick without health insurance, Julia pays for a large chunk of the bills.
In this scenario, Julias life is hardly self-reliant; others have come through and supported her in crucial moments throughout her life. But she has been fortunate enough to be able to give back in her later years, and hers was not a life dominated by big government.
And that is the vision the Republican party needs to present. Its not a political vision. Its not about legislation. Its about showing skeptical Americans that there is an alternative to big government that does not mean you always survive on your own with no help from anyone.
But its not enough just to talk up that vision: Republicans need to take seriously the civic problem of how to restore our culture. Social institutions have been decimated in America in recent decades. As Charles Murray documented in Coming Apart, theres also a class gap at work here: Wealthier Americans are more likely to be in stable marriages and attending church (a crucial voluntary association) than lower-income Americans. Furthermore, as Robert Putmans Bowling Alone chronicled more than a decade ago, Americans spend less time these days in voluntary associations such as sports leagues, churches, and neighborhood organizations than they did in prior years.
Its far too simplistic (not to mention unnecessarily insulting) to reduce this election to being between takers and makers. We are all takers sometimes. (And we try to be makers to the best of our abilities.) The question is whom we are taking from: from the government, which forces our fellow citizens to give up their money, or from our fellow citizens directly, when they give to us of their own volition?
Paul Ryan, to his credit, did directly bring up this idea in a speech on poverty in October. Most times, he said, the real debate is about whether [peoples needs] are best met by private groups, or by the government; by voluntary action, or by more taxes and coercive mandates from Washington. The short of it is that there has to be a balance allowing government to act for the common good, while leaving private groups free to do the work that only they can do. Theres a vast middle ground between the government and the individual.
The GOP vision isnt about ruthless individuals, striking out on their own and thriving or failing as their luck and innate abilities permit. Instead, its about a society where merit and hard work are rewarded, where neighbors help each other in tough times, and where everyone works together to build a thriving nation. Its about a country where religious organizations are allowed to follow their spiritual convictions, where capital flows from the rich to the start-up businesses, and where no one is as alone and friendless as faceless Julia unless she chooses to be.
Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.
“Lets look at Julias life in a world with smaller government and robust community organizations and voluntary associations. Julia attends her churchs preschool, which is offered at no cost to those lacking financial resources. When its time for college, she works part-time (at a low-profit business that is able to exist because of fewer regulations), takes out loans, and wins a scholarship donated by a rich business owner who funds a program oriented toward helping smart low-income people go to college. After college, she finds her first job, thanks to a tip from a friend that a certain business is hiring. The first few years are rough, but thanks to frugal living, Julia hangs on and makes her loan payments. She makes as much as her male colleagues because she majored in a field known for good salaries, and because shes not afraid to ask for a raise. Furthermore, the strong moral foundations of this society make her boss consider it wrong to pay differently based on sex.
She and her partner together pay for the medical costs when she has her first child. Neighbors help the young couple out with supplies and babysitting assistance. As she gets older, and her little family becomes more prosperous, Julia is able to help others. Not only can she put her children through college, she helps other people achieve their dream and launch a small business by lending them money. When her best friend unexpectedly gets sick without health insurance, Julia pays for a large chunk of the bills.”
Trinko better take off the rose-colored glasses, stat! This world never existed and can never exist—except for a lucky few.
While we were busy being grossed out and repelled by Julia 51% of our fellow citizens were looking at her and saying “oooooh, yeah, sounds good to me!”
Let’s face facts. Julia won.
I think that the Democrats have figured out how to use MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS to win elections. Maslow studied people to look at motivation. He looked at successful people. He had five levels of needs. They are from lowest to highest: Physiological (food, water, sex, etc...), Safety (health, physical security, etc...), Belonging (friends, family, social groups), Esteem (confidence, respect of others, etc...), Self-Actualization (morality, creativity, etc...). He felt that as lower level needs were met, the person would move up the scale eventually becoming a Self-Actualized person. To me, it looks like a Self-Actualized person is a Republican. They want freedom, growth, independence, courage. What do the Democrats want? Well, Self-Actualized people probably aren’t going to want a lot of government interference in their lives.
The GOP vision is a less chaotically managed socialist state.
So, how do the Democrats exploit Maslow’s Theory? How do they get votes from people whose lower needs have actually been met? Fear. They make the Democrat voters afraid that their lower level needs will be brought back to them by the Republicans. Fear is a tremendous motivator.
The Democrats tell fearful young people and minorities and women that the Republicans want to starve them and put them into the street and let them die of illness.
The Democrats tell young men and women, and the parents of young men and women, that the Republicans want to enslave them with needy babies.
The Democrats tell fearful homosexuals that the Republicans want them to die from AIDS and for them to be lonely and alone.
The Democrats tell government workers that the Republicans want to throw them into the street and let them starve.
The Democrat party, knowingly and willfully, seeks to frighten people for the monetary sake of their leaders. They work to keep people on the low end of Maslow’s scale. The Democrat leaders are cruel and self-serving. It is despicable.
I think it’s a good point, but it doesn’t quite get there. Part of the problem is just a function of modern society. The idea that if her friend gets sick, that she’ll just reach into her savings account and pay for it is not going to convince very many people who have taken a look at $500,000 medical bills for relatively minor illnesses. You might get a little further talking about hospitals writing some of their bills off as charity cases, but most people will also figure that’s going to end up on their health insurance bill.
I think the better approach as opposed to trying to convince people that civil society voluntary institutions will be able to take care of them, is to point out that a growing economy not only allows more people to take care of themselves and each other through voluntary institutions such as business, family, church and charity, but it also reduces the fiscal pressure on government through a reduction in need and an increase in the tax base, such that even government social welfare programs do better in a growing economy.
Good point. I’m glad the GOP doesn’t try to use fear tactics (zomg SOCIALISM!!! DEATH PANELS!!!). :rolleyes:
“Good point. Im glad the GOP doesnt try to use fear tactics (zomg SOCIALISM!!! DEATH PANELS!!!). :rolleyes:”
So you agree with the Democrat fear policies because you don’t argue against them. Good to know where you stand on these issues.
Good to know that you agree with the Democrats using fear against their own voters. How proud you must be.
Nice piece of rhetoric to ignore the issue and try to obfuscate. Do you or don’t you agree that the Democrats use fear to motivate their voters? If they do, why?
You’re not even clever enough to come up with your own argument. Does the Democrat party use fear to motivate their voters? You can talk about the sky being blue, but you don’t even have an argument.
I looked at the Democratic Party Platform of 2012. The words “Mitt Romney and the Republicans” are in the Democrat Party Platform so many times, that I started to wonder if it was the Republican Party Platform. I saw “Obama” mentioned once in the Republican Party Platform of 2012.