by Scott Rasmussen
Editor’s note: The following September 21st article is reposted from Rasmussen Reports. Mr. Rasmussen is a respected pollster and commentator on the political scene and is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports. To find out more about him and his organization, or to receive his free polling updates, visit his website.
Mitt Romney’s comments about 47 percent of Americans being dependent on government and locked in to vote for President Obama highlight a fundamental reality in American politics today: The gap between the American people and the political class is bigger than the gap between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C.
Romney’s remarks are the GOP equivalent of Obama’s notorious comments about small-town Pennsylvania voters bitterly clinging to their guns and religion.
Both Romney and Obama highlighted the condescending attitude that political elites hold of the people they want to rule over. A National Journal survey found that 59 percent of political insiders don’t think voters know enough to have meaningful opinions on the important issues of the day. That’s a handy rationalization for those who want to ignore the voters and impose their own agenda.
In the nation’s capital, this gap creates bigger problems for Republicans than Democrats. Democratic voters tend to think that their representatives in Congress do a decent job representing them. That’s because Democrats are a bit more comfortable with the idea of government playing a leading role in American society. However, 63 percent of Republican voters believe their representatives in Washington are out of touch with the party base.
Establishment Republicans in Washington broadly share the Democrats’ view that the government should manage the economy. They may favor a somewhat more pro-business set of policies than their Democratic colleagues, but they still act as if government policy is the starting point for all economic activity.
Republican voters reject this view. They are more interested in promoting free market competition rather than handing out favors to big business. They detest corporate welfare and government bailouts, even though their party leaders support them.
The GOP base sees government as a burden that weighs the private sector down rather than a tool that can generate growth if used properly. Ninety-six percent of Republican voters believe that the best thing the government can do to help the economy is to cut spending and free up more money for the private sector.
The Republican base is looking for someone like a 21st century Ronald Reagan, who will display his faith in the American people. The Washington Republicans are more comfortable with politicians like George W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Though the establishment has dominated the party since Reagan left the White House, the 2012 election could well be the end of the line.
If Romney loses in November, the Republican base will no longer buy the electability argument for an establishment candidate. From the view of the base, the elites will have given away an eminently winnable election. Someone new, from outside of Washington, will be the party’s nominee in 2016.
If Romney wins and does nothing to change the status quo, the economy will falter. He will end up as the second straight one-term president, and the nation will desperately be searching for an authentic outsider in 2016.
If he wins the White House, the only way for Romney to succeed will be to side with the nation’s voters and throw out the club in Washington. That will be great news for the country but bad news for political insiders on both sides of the partisan aisle.
by John Stossel
Editor’s note: The following is reposted from the Rasmussen Reports on September 5th. John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network and author of “Give Me a Break” and of “Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity.” Copyright 2012 BY JFS Productions, Inc.
The Republican Convention ended on the theme “Believe in America.” That sounded nice, but it was just another platitude. Mitt Romney’s speech was filled with platitudes: “We will honor America’s democratic ideals. … We’re united to preserve liberty.”
Liberals and conservatives have real differences. We should state them.
America is going broke, and tough decisions must be made. To save our future, we must slow the growth of entitlements and military spending. Mitt Romney was silent about that.
Sure, “Believing in America” means individuals get to decide how to run the businesses we create. But it should also mean that we get to run the rest of our lives, too: whom we marry, what we do for recreation, what substances we ingest, how big our soft drinks are. Mitt Romney said nothing about that.
I want to believe that if Romney is elected, he will finally impose some fiscal discipline and fight to put America on a sustainable course — but his Tampa speech gave me no confidence that he would.
Instead, he pandered, saying, “As governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman lieutenant governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials. …” So what? What does that have to do with America’s problems? Was that supposed to persuade people that Republicans don’t wage “war on women”? It won’t.
If conventions are mere infomercials, Republicans should at least do them well.
It’s offensive that politicians force taxpayers to pay $18.3 million to subsidize these pep rallies. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., tried to end the subsidies, saying, “There is no justification for spending public funds on booze, balloons and confetti.” He’s right. But Congress ignored him.
The Republicans did some good things in Tampa, like showing two debt clocks and allowing speakers like Ted Cruz to say, “Rights are secure only when government power is restrained.” But then Mitt Romney spoke. He said nothing of significance.
“Believing in America” means objecting when politicians claim they solve our problems. Romney said he has a “plan to create 12 million jobs.” Huh? Why not 13 million? Why not 50? Promising 12 million is an absurd conceit. When politicians say, “Yes, we can,” we should say: No, they can’t! Government fails, but individuals succeed.
The Dems are worse. What do they stand for? They say they believe in a progressive, liberal society, but to them that means a giant government that pretends to solve problems, causes new ones and then spends even more to appear to solve those problems.
I say “appear” because they never actually do it.
President Obama came in full of promises. What’s he accomplished? He expanded George W. Bush’s dangerous debt. Government spending sets peacetime records. He proposed nothing serious to bring Medicare under control. He didn’t curtail our role as world policeman — on the contrary, the administration routinely bombs several populations by remote control. Military spending continues to grow.
Here’s what I wish Obama would say this week:
“I was wrong to expand government the way I have. I overreached. Modern liberalism put us on an unsustainable course. I will save America by restoring limited government that keeps the peace but then leaves free people alone.”
Hey, I can hope.
Mr. President, like you, I believe in social justice. But I believe in Thomas Jefferson’s idea of social justice: a free society where people are unimpeded by bureaucrats and politicians; where people freely trade goods and services — that is, cooperate — without anyone telling us what to do.
It means that the government won’t engage in what Frederic Bastiat called “legal plunder”– taking resources from some (mostly working people) to bestow them on others.
That’s genuine liberalism — original liberalism. You, Mr. President, have bought into the upside-down distortion of liberalism, where government runs things (much of it on behalf of cronies — the well-heeled and well-connected) and the rest of us follow directions. That’s not liberalism. Let’s call it what it is: corporatism, state socialism, crony capitalism. Liberalism is about liberty: individual freedom and free markets.
Only that can bring us the real hope and change that freedom represents.