Jack must be rolling in his grave
"People want government to help them. That's what government's all about."
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), "Real Time with Bill Maher," 4/29/05
I usually don't watch Bill Maher, mostly because he's an arrogant, sexist SOB. But I'm procrastinating on a 20-page paper I owe my crim law professor from the fall, which means I'm not going out and having fun tonight, and America's Next Top Model is over for the evening. So HBO it is. I'm only halfway paying attention when I overhear this quote. Sen. Schumer was contrasting the Democrats to the Republicans (favorably, surprise, surprise), and pointing out that while Republicans fare better on the "complicated" issues (the clear implication of this being that Republicans excel at spin and obfuscation), Democrats are good at talking to the people and finding out what's really important to them re: health care, education and welfare, etc., etc. That's when he made this outrageous quote.
I don't like to box myself in as "conservative" or "liberal," though when pressed, I'll say I'm conservative. Still, I understand the importance and value of having certain government programs that aid those who can't afford to help themselves, much as I hate how this eats into my paycheck. I think there are huge problems with the way that it's run (I despise bureaucracy in any form), but my distaste shouldn't be viewed as a condemnation of the idea of government aid. Given that, though, I would think that, all other things equal, people would (should?) want to survive on their own rather than depend on someone else or something else for their survival. And I say this as a lazy person. I swear to God I'm lazy. As a testament to this, I'm still in my pajamas and have only written a page and a half of my aforementioned paper (it's nominally due today -- there is about an hour and a half left in "today"). Other than that, today I have watched TV, IM'd friends and checked the mail. That's pretty much how all my weekends look, except that sometimes I also go out to eat/barhop/club/etc. So I'm definitely lazy. But I'm also (paradoxically?) independent. If my laziness threatened my independence I suspect I would find a way to overcome the laziness, rather than give up the independence.
So my long-winded point is this: I think my independence is a highly American trait. Independence is valued in this country, and I think that's a good thing. Sure, there's plenty of room for the valid argument that Americans are overworked, but that's different from saying they don't want to support themselves. In other words, America is about taking care of yourself. It's about making something of yourself. It's not about looking at the government, holding your hand out and tapping your foot. It's not about the government supporting you. It's not about the government "helping" you.
JFK, the patron saint of modern Democrats, got this. He famously got it. It's not about sitting around waiting for the government to help you. It's about work. It's about independence. It's about patriotism. It's about what you can do for your country.
I hope Sen. Schumer remembers that.