The Maryland Public Policy Institute
The media eviscerated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in recent weeks for suggesting that President Barack Obama's supporters are dependent on government.
He said at a fundraiser in May, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
He got his numbers wrong, as many of those included in that statistic pay some form of taxes. Worse, he writes off a whole swath of Americans who most likely don't want to be locked in a cycle of poverty.
Instead of condemning almost half of the country at that fundraiser, he should have explained why self-reliance and financial independence should be national goals.
As Maryland Republican Senate candidate Dan Bongino said in an interview with The Daily Caller last week, those who believe in limited government have the better story.
"It is not compassion to lock someone in a poverty prison ... by ignoring the outcome of bad policy." Bongino, who grew up poor, added, "Shame on us for not making the moral argument. We make the statistical argument, we make the political argument. We need to make the moral argument -- how we are offering, offering those who are struggling amongst us a way out, not an excuse."
Democrats, on the other hand, are content to sell redemption through government largesse.
A record 46 million -- 15 percent of the population -- accept food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Likewise, the number of people on Social Security Disability Insurance has risen more than 20 percent since 2007, a major factor in why the labor force has declined. President Obama gutted the work requirement of welfare reform.
While Romney's remarks were crude and stretched the truth, he is right that dependency is undermining our character individually and as a nation in the same way that parents who do their children's homework or demand that teachers revise their children's grades upward sabotage their kids' character. And the horrible thing is the politicians who sell the "government did that" vision know we can't pay for all the entitlements that Americans allegedly have a "right" to.
It's depressing to think of America as a nation of victims with no one to pick up the tab. I don't think Americans want that future. But Republicans need to do a much better job, and fast, of selling personal responsibility for what it is: a life worth living. When more than half the nation is comfortable getting something for nothing, it will be too late.