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The 53% vs. the 99%

Posted By Ben Shapiro On September 20, 2012 @ 12:55 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 51 Comments

This week, Mother Jones launched what might best be termed a September surprise: a secret tape of an off-the-record Mitt Romney fundraiser from May in which he stated, “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.”

Parts of this are artfully worded and true; parts are inartfully worded and true. Romney is exactly correct that almost half of the American population believes that they are victims – let’s call them Group A. He is also correct that 47% of Americans do not pay any federal income tax – let’s call them Group B. He is wrong to suggest that everyone in Group B is in Group A. And he’s wrong to suggest that everyone in Group A is in Group B. There are plenty of people who pay federal income tax who believe in the victimology that lies at the root of American leftism.

In truth, Barack Obama doesn’t believe that just 47% of the American population is victimized. He believes, as does his shock force in the Occupy movement, that 99% of Americans are victimized by some shadowy 1%. Overlooked in his infamous “you didn’t build that” speech is a far more troubling notion: the notion that success in America comes from luck. As he put it, “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

Surely Obama is correct in individual cases; there are certainly some smart, hardworking people who have failed miserably on the financial front. But most Americans were not successful because they found a back door to success. They are successful because they made smart decisions and worked hard. Obama, however, believes that there is some sort of perverse cronyism at work in American success stories, and that without a similarly cronyistic government to be your best friend, your father figure, your banker, you will fail.

All of liberalism is based on this conceit. The only way you can justify to yourself taking the money and labor of others is by portraying yourself as a victim. Redistribution of wealth from Jake to Joe is a violation of the Ten Commandments unless Jake owes Joe money. Liberals forget that taxation for police and fire is designed to help everyone, including the taxed. But simply handing tax money from one person to another violates the basic foundational principles of Western civilization.

Unless, of course, it’s not redistribution that the left wants, but recompense. That’s why class warfare is such an integral part of leftist rhetoric. The rich can’t simply be rich – they must be guilty. The poor can’t just be poor – they must be virtuous.

Romney, by contrast, speaks of an America where Americans do not think of themselves as victims. If people are poor, we don’t assume they’ve been victimized; we simply tell them that if they do their best, they will succeed. We are all born with unequal situations, unequal faculties. God’s apparent injustice in this matter does not give men the license to victimize one another. In fact, only if men do not victimize one another – only if they grant one another the freedom and space to live within the law – can everyone succeed. Otherwise, society does become a war of majority against minority.

In Mitt Romney’s America, the 53% do not get to victimize the 47%. In Barack Obama’s America, the 99% get to victimize the 1%. That is the basic difference in philosophy: not numbers, but the driving need to justify what is basically wrong.

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