Let's get the shocking part out of the way first. This is part of an interview in a Romney field office in Virginia by Christopher Crook of the Progressive:
What do you mean, exactly, I ask him. You say people are suffering under Obama, don't they need some help?
“No. No more help, enough is enough. People have to pick themselves up, take some responsibility. Why should we be paying for people’s mistakes and bad choices? All these illegitimate families just adding to the population, making all these bad decisions, then asking us to pay for it? It's time to cut them off."
I ask for some clarification: what do you mean, just starve them out? What if people can't find work? Let them starve?
"Look, there's always something you can do. You telling me people can't make a choice for a better life? We have to help all of them? No. I'll tell you what really need to do with these illegitimate families on welfare — give all the kids up for adoption and execute the parents."
Let me be clear -- there is no way that I think that any Republican leader or candidate supports this statement. That's not my point.
My point is this: When you abandon the concept of community, of "the commons," you give THIS sort of thinking room to grow. When you shrug like Atlas and say that caring and compassion are for suckers, you wind up with Expediency as the ground of all being.
- People who are hurting through no fault of their own? Fuck 'em. They should have been smarter, or had more charm, or chosen richer parents.
- An economic system that takes from the poor and gives to the rich? That's the way it is supposed to be, because obviously the rich are living right and are thus blessed of God.
- Too many mouths to feed? Too many people out of work? Too many sick people? We can't afford to take care of everyone -- some of them will just have to die.
Am I worried that this crazy statement from a single Republican field worker is going to become the law of the land? Of course not. He's a bitter old man, speaking only for himself.
Except, he's not speaking only for himself. Many, many people believe that we have no common bond, no shared humanity, no responsibility to each other. Many, many people believe that any help from the government to individuals is not only expensive, but morally wrong. We don't need to call out this guy's statement, as it is self-evidently insane. But, we DO have to call out the philosophy, the belief system behind it.
Because that belief system, left unchallenged, will wreck our nation.