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The 2012 election is setting in stark contrast the message of the two major parties. Instead of the usual choice between the lesser of two evils or the less clearly evil of two barely distinguishable choices, the two candidates will stand firmly on the ideology of their respective parties. The leftist rhetoric and agenda of the Democrats is opening up the wide, patriotic center for the Republicans to fill.
A video containing the shocking catch phrase "Government is the only thing we all belong to," apparently didn't raise any eyebrows in the Obama campaign or in the Democratic National Committee, both of which could be expected to have vetted the materials.
We are committed to all people. We do believe you can use government in a good way. Government's the ony thing that we all belong to. We have different churches, different clubs, but we're together as a part of our city, or our county, or our state ... and our nation.
Attendees at the Democratic National Convention were asked to approve or disapprove of the statement. The video shows many voicing approval, but their understanding of the phrase "belong to the government" appears different from the jarring one others might have.
The Romney team responded quickly, drawing a clear distinction:
We don't belong to government, the government belongs to us.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 4, 2012
But rather than seeing themselves as chattel of the government, belonging to it in the sense of being property, the liberals tend to see themselves as members of the government. They are proclaiming approval at belonging to a giant social club.
Indeed, the host committee video contrasts the "different churches, different clubs" with universal membership in the government club.
And yet, the membership and description of belonging to a community clearly go deeper than mere club membership. The warm, cozy feelings of protection and safety expressed by those interviewed take on an almost religious quality, far different from the wary, arms-length approach of libertarians and conservatives.
Government is not a club, because membership, such as it is, is mandatory. One doesn't voluntarily join the government, except perhaps as an employee or holder of public office.
The two parties are setting up a stark contrast for this election, which is unusal in presidential politics over the last few decades. Typically, the parties tack to "the center", to grab as many unaligned voters as possible. As The Washingon Times' Joel Gehrke put it,
That’s a very different message from what voters heard at the Republican National Convention from Clint Eastwood. “We own this country,” Eastwood said last week, adding that politicians are just the employees of the American people. “When someone isn’t doing the job, we’ve got to let [him] go,” he also said, in calling for Obama’s defeat this year.
I am glad that this election is shaping up as one of sharp contrasts, rather than as an absurd choice between two amorphous bags of goo. The radical leftism of the Democrats is forcing, or perhaps allowing, the naturally equivocal Romney to defend positions those in his party hold dear.