No Escaping Paternalism This Election

The Democratic party has the reputation as the paternalistic party — the big government party that seeks to control more of your life and make decisions for you because they know best.

The Republican party tries to present itself as an alternative to paternalism, as the small-government party that trusts you to make more decisions and have more freedom.  But their all-but-certain nominee Mitt displays an arrogance and lack of respect for our intelligence that comes across as paternalism — he’s smart and rich and successful, so he knows better than we do what we need, and he will make the decisions for us.

If we’re so smart, then why don’t we have $250 million and accounts in the Cayman Islands and an oceanfront estate in La Jolla.  I would suggest that many of us don’t have his net worth not because we lack his intelligence or willingness to work hard, but because we lack his ruthlessness and don’t want to destroy companies and fire people, and also because we weren’t born on third base as he was as George Romney’s son, which opened doors for him when he started his career.

In his campaign appearances and interviews, Mitt condescends to us, offering simplistic explanations, very much the father figure.  He’s Ward Cleaver, and we’re Wally and the Beaver.  And we know he thinks June belongs in the kitchen or vacuuming in pearls and heels.

I wonder if this is one reason why Mitt’s unfavorables are so high among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents.  These are folks who reject Dem paternalism, but can’t escape it with Mitt.

 

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