The age-old conservative-liberal debate about the role of government in our society was put in stark light when last week, Mitt Romney demanded that our communities become less secure and our children less educated (by continuing to fire teachers, police officers, and firefighters).
The media take on this has generally been that it was a gaffe by Romney, and that Democrats went after it was just tit for tat for the Republicans smearing the President. But in reality, Romney’s comments provide a window into conservative thinking, and unwittingly, does liberals a favor, if we can take advantage of it.
I am not talking about political or electoral advantage here. I’m talking about an opportunity to redefine the terms of the national debate on the role of government. For 35 years, conservatives have framed government as an inefficient bureaucracy that stand primarily to hinder the economic freedoms of individuals. Sure, they have done so in order to protect corporate special interests from public interest oversight, but they have rather successfully villainized the government nonetheless.
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