Politicians of all stripes campaign on what they have done for their constituents. That’s what made earmarks so popular with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. They could fire off a press release touting a new bike path or attend a campaign event centered on the groundbreaking of a community center.
The not so subtle implication was that the politicians were the providers. Of course, they are not so much providers as redistributors. They provide the programs by which they coerce the makers to funnel money to the takers.
Nonetheless, it is all about what perceived benefits politicians could deliver to their constituents back home. The more they provide to their constituents, the more essential politicians become. And let’s face it, a career politician’s dream is to become indispensible to their constituents.
A typical politician campaigns to protect programs A, B and C, while promising new programs to do X, Y and Z in the future. Oh, that same politician also says his opponent not only opposes new programs to do X, Y and Z, but he is going to gut programs A, B and C, too.
Only when you understand that dynamic can you understand the politically perceptive nature of Romney’s comments. Not only are there those “who are dependent upon government” and “who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them,” but there are politicians who perpetuate that belief.
Just take the now-stalled farm and food stamp bill.
Last week, the Associated Press explained, “Farm-state members of Congress have campaigned for decades on the back of farm bills delivering election-season subsidies and other goodies to rural voters.” This year, however, they will be “returning home empty-handed.” Farm-state Democrats are following the familiar pattern, “gloating” that rural communities will collapse unless voters side with Democrats in November.
Instead of bickering about the political implications of comments and policies, we should be considering the impact government dependency has on real people (as opposed to those fake people who inhabit the mythical ground surrounding our nation’s marble-clad capital).