Just for members: Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication at American University and a CBS Radio News Political Analyst, offers this report from Cleveland:
Set aside for a moment Ben Carson’s rather bizarre charge in his speech last night that Hillary Clinton has an association with Lucifer. More revealing is his statement that Clinton and the Democrats deliberately set out to undercut young people by depriving them of a good education and opportunities in life in order to make them indefinitely dependent on government — because that’s how “they can be cultivated for their votes.”
Unless I’m misunderstanding him, he’s effectively saying that Democrats advocate for programs not because they want to help people out of misfortune but rather to create a state of dependency on government as a way to dole out goodies, which then translates into political support — essentially buying votes through government largesse.
And it wasn’t just Ben Carson suggesting this. In his speech last night Paul Ryan called big government “the distributor of gifts and privilege,” and others have railed against a culture that demeans personal responsibility, rewards those who game the rules, and fosters dependence on government. Without calling it the 47 percent who will only support candidates that dole out entitlements, the similarities are strong.
Now not all who oppose government programs will agree with Ben Carson that they are designed as a hustle to buy political support. Many simply and sincerely believe that these programs do more harm than good, and it’s a disservice to them to suggest otherwise.
But assume for a moment that more share Carson’s view than are willing to admit. What does that tell us about the state of our politics today? It tells us that the distrust and ill-will between the parties is so deep, so profound, that some can attribute only political cynicism and deception to those who advocate for programs designed to help those living in poverty. And if earnest efforts to assuage the pain of poverty and assist the climb out can be seen as self-interested maneuvers to buy votes, then perhaps the Ben Carson comment about Hillary Clinton’s Lucifer association — and all the other ad hominem attacks leveled at her this week — reflect far more than mere partisan rhetoric at a political convention.