[Photo from the National Journal. AP photo by Mary Altaffer]
One of the mantras of the Christian Republican Party these days is that everyone can become rich and successful if they put their nose to the grindstone, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or grab on to mommy's apron strings (as in the case of Paul Ryan).
Being poor, according to this mantra, is to be lazy, and God knows God doesn't reward lazy with the stuff of the American dream.
The mantra also stresses that one is responsible mainly to and for oneself. Successful people like Romney and Ryan (both of whom came from well-to-do families) want all of us who wannabe like them to know that they accomplished their great deeds all by their little selves! They didn't need no guv'mint to help 'em.
Or maybe they're blowing smoke up our behinds? You think? Would good politicos from the Christian Republican Party do such a thing?
We know that Romney's been on the government payroll as governor of Massachusetts, a state left in a state of disrepair after Romney's reign. We also know (but not to what extent, because he's not gonna let us see his tax returns) that Romney has taken advantage of every possible tax loophole to avoid paying his fair share. Some say he's not paid any income tax for ten years. He says the people who say that are liars. He says that Harry Reid should "put up or shut up." Harry Reid, says Mittens, should "prove" that Romney hasn't paid any taxes in the last ten years.
And isn't it fascinating how the Christian Republican politicos can turn just about anything on its head without blinking an eye. It isn't Reid who has to prove anything, it's Romney! But Mittens isn't going to release his tax returns because if he does, his chance to take up residence in the White House is blown out of the water, and then, who knows, maybe Mr. Ryan will indeed be "the next president of the United States" as Mittens said so famously in his speech introducing Mr. Ryan to the world.
We also know that Mr. Ryan has sucked at the government's teat ever since he was a wee lad of 24. And from what I've heard, he wouldn't need to take a dime of the government's money because his wife is worth millions. But, for some reason, wealthy people tend to think the government owes them a living as does Mr. Ryan. This same government that Ryan rails against has succored him for the last 18 years, providing him with a good wage, health care, retirement benefits to die for, and the applause of about five folks in Wisconsin.
But both Mittens and Ryan claim proudly to be self-made men. They climbed to the top of the heap all by themselves! They didn't need no welfare, food stamps, medicare!
Sam Harris has recently published a small tome called "Free Will," in which he argues that what we usually think of as free will is an illusion. And, says Mr. Harris, that has "political implications." Toward the end of the book, in the chapter titled "Politics," Mr. Harris writes this:
"For better or worse, dispelling the illusion of free will has political implications--because liberals and conservatives are not equally in thrall to it. Liberals tend to understand that a person can be lucky or unlucky in all matters relevant to his success. Conservatives, however, often make a religious fetish of individualism. Many seem to have absolutely no awareness of how fortunate one must be to succeed at anything in life, no matter how hard one works. One must be lucky to be able to work. One must be lucky to be intelligent, physically healthy, and not bankrupted in middle age by the illness of a spouse.
"Consider the biography of any 'self-made' man, and you will find that his success was entirely dependent on background conditions that he did not make and of which he was merely the beneficiary. There is not a person on earth who chose his genome, or the country of his birth, or the political and economic conditions that prevailed at moments crucial to his progress. And yet, living in America, one gets the distinct sense that if certain conservatives were asked why they weren't born with club feet or orphaned before the age of five, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments."
It should be obvious that neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Ryan are "self-made" men by any stretch of the imagination. They have been and are, however, damn lucky!
Note: The Republican Party as we have known it historically no longer exists. Because of internal changes within the Party, I have found that it is much more correct to now call it the Christian Republican Party.