Scott Galupo makes an important point in his post on Paul Ryan’s speech last night. Measuring the distance between Ryan’s vision and the lived experience of many Americans, Galupo observes that:
In Ryan’s intellectual bubble, there are job creators and entrepreneurs on one side and parasites on the other. There is no account of the vast gray expanse of janitors, waitresses, hotel front-desk clerks, nurses, highway maintenance workers, airport baggage handlers, and taxi drivers. They work hard, but at the end of the day, what can they be said to have “built”?
This disconnect goes beyond Ryan. Again and again last night, we heard stories of poor people who became successful because of their hard work and smart decisions. Susanna Martinez described the growth of her parents’ security business “from one 18-year-old guarding a bingo-to more than 125 people in three states.” Rand Paul told the story of his constituents, the Tang family. According to Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Tang are Cambodian refugees who work long hours in the donut shop they own, but how have sent their children on to extraordinary academic achievement. Even Ann Romney contributed to the rags-to-riches story contest. Although many Americans know her as a quarter-billionaire enthusiast for equestrian sports, Mrs. Romney thought it important to inform us that she is the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner.
These stories make us feel good about America. But their repetition ad nauseam reveals the insularity of the Romney campaign. Most Americans are not entrepreneurs or business owners. And the ranks of employers aren’t limited to the blue-collar types Galupo mentions. They include vast swathes of the middle class, including millions of government employees who would presumably lose their jobs if the Ryan budget were enacted. (People who work for military contractors would apparently be safe.)
We heard a great deal last night about what a President Romney would do about America’s enemies, at least as John McCain and Condoleeza Rice understand them. We also heard something about Romney’s dedication to freedom, although without much explanation of what that means. But we heard almost nothing about what another Republican administration offers Americans who work jobs rather than “creating” them.
It’s part of the so-called American dream, as Sen. Paul put it, that “any among us can become the next Thomas Edison, the next Henry Ford, the next Ronald Reagan…” Another part is that those who don’t reach the towering heights of achievement can hope for stable lives that include a reasonable measure of comfort. Republicans once endorsed this rather modest ambition. Does anyone believe they care about it now?