Facts tend to be very stubborn things, but don’t let politics get in the way of spinning them into outright fiction. Super PAC Priorities USA sure didn’t in its anti-Romney ad with one Joe Soptic, a steel worker whose life lays in tatters because of Mitt Romney (if you believe the ad). Facts need not matter when dealing with the reality of Soptic’s story, and the ad certainly takes a lot of liberty with the timeline of events.
Priorities USA’s ad reflects an alarming trend that the Obama campaign is sure to continue. The easiest and quickest way to discredit Mitt Romney is to paint him as that out of touch rich guy, and then hammer home how bad the rich guys really are. Class warfare being waged in its finest, or more appropriately, in its worst. Admittedly, rhetoric out of the Romney/anti-Obama camp could use some refinement, too, but at the very least they are not trying to frighten rich people into defending themselves against the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The impact to our republic is unmistakable. As the Economist recently reported in a cover story, the real debate that Americans need to hear - what is the proper role and size of government - is lost in the rhetoric. Realistic evaluations of the candidates cannot ever take place because we simply don’t have a scale to measure them with. If you hate greedy capitalists, obviously you support Barack Obama. If you want big government gone, obviously you support Mitt Romney. There’s a lot to be desired in coming to your choice in such a fashion.
All the while, we fail to ask ourselves some very simple questions when making a choice:
Is it the government’s role to guarantee individual rights or guarantee an equal share of wealth? Is it moral for the government to take money from one group of people and give it to another based on nothing more than “need?” If it is moral, by what objective standard is “need” defined and do the candidates follow that objective standard?
Ultimately, what results by our collective failure to answer those questions is what the Economist calls “America’s schizophrenia”: our country is taxed like a small government state, but spends money like a big government state. Guilty as charged. As the same article points out, Obama’s stuck in this mentality that somehow the public sector has more of a claim to the moral high ground than the private, and inexplicably so. There is little to suggest Obama’s ever willing to be intellectually honest enough to engage the subject of what the government’s role should be.
However, Romney must do more to drive this debate into a discussion of government we all need to hear. We get that private enterprise is good, and we know you believe that small businesses help Americans enjoy the freedoms we hold as truisms in our Constitution. Stop treating liberty and freedom as a truism, and start reminding the American voters what America as an ideal really means. Without a constitutionally limited federal government, we lose ownership of our lives. When we lose ownership of our lives, we become slaves to the ambition and demands of another.
While it’s a fact Obama might not want to hear, facts tend to be very stubborn things indeed.