Romney’s ‘Free Stuff’ Comment Sums Up How Conservatives View Government Benefits

Mitt Romney was booed yesterday at the NAACP convention when he said he would repeal Obamacare. Later in the day he told a fundraising crowd that if they want “free stuff” they should vote for President Obama. With those two simple words “free stuff,” Romney has summed up how conservatives view government benefits.

It boils down to in-group bias.

There are plenty of conservatives receiving all kinds of government benefits including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and so on. Of course when you bring this to their attention they will say, “I paid into it, so I earned it.” They are implying that others have not paid for their government benefits. To be clear, there are winners and losers when it comes to some government benefits. Obviously the higher your income the more tax you pay in dollars and percentage, but that really isn’t the point, and conservatives who have this attitude about their benefits vs. the benefits of others aren’t really thinking in those terms either. It’s much more basic than that and its rooted in longstanding human nature which makes it convenient for us to believe we deserve something but rationalize any number of reasons for why someone else doesn’t.

So when Mitt Romney says “free stuff,” it’s code for the benefits that people receive, but (in his view) don’t deserve. It’s safe to say that Mr. Romney isn’t thinking “little old lady on Medicare and Social Security wearing a Mitt for President button” when he says vote for President Obama if you want “free stuff.”


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