Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has had a few unforced hiccups in his attempt to Etch-A-Sketch his campain for presidency.
On Friday, Romney experienced one such hiccup, a statement meant to appease the extreme rightwing base while shocking most of mainstream America.
Romney said at a press conference, "He [Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."
Thanks, Wisconsin. Your failure to recall your radically anti-union Governor is now being interpreted by mainstream Republicans as a mandate to get rid of teachers, police and firemen.
But this is also a statement wildly inconsistent with the average American voter who, by and large, believes we could always use more firemen, more police and more teachers.
Romney is trying to talk to the extremist Republican base here - reinforcing what they believe - which is that we need to get rid of public sector employees.
The reason Republicans believe this is twofold -
1. Public sector employees like teachers, police and firemen still have unions. Unions give enough money to Democrats that they compete with Republicans who are disproportionately the recipients of corporate donations. And Republicans would prefer not to have to compete since they tend to think and believe things outside the mainstream like, for example, we don't need more teachers, police or firemen.
2. The more jobs we pull out of the public sector, the more we send money into the private sector. If we get rid of public schools, that's a boon for private schools. If we actually go back to the privatized fire department model, that opens the potential for a private profit. And if we can get rid of police, imagine the profits contractors like Haliburtion/KBR/Xe can make. Never mind in the long run these privatization schemes tend to cost the average American taxpayer more money and result in reduced quality of service.
But in order to sell this to an American public that generally wants more police, teachers and firemen, Republicans need to convince us that we need to get rid of these things.
And they way they accomplish that is by repeating the mantra, "government can't help." And when they get elected to office, they set about proving just that, by doing nothing. By obstructing - like the current Congress is doing - or by just general ineptitude, like 8 years of the Bush Administration.
But really, what they mean is, Republican government can't help. And they're right. It can't. As long as the people saying government can't help keep getting elected.
If we want a healthy, functioning country, the first step is to not vote for people who don't believe in government.