Recently in Jerusalem, Mitt Romney ascribed Israel’s relative prosperity compared with that of Palestinians to “cultural” differences. Shortly thereafter, the former Massachusetts governor reprised the cultural theme at a fundraiser in Forth Worth, Texas that was closed to the press. A leaked recording of a portion of his speech follows:
“Ladies and Gentleman, ours is an age when candor is condemned and directness denounced. We dare not say what we know to be true, for there is comfort in that which we recognize as false.
“Some may lament such political correctness, but keep in mind that what we call civilization rests on a razor’s edge: Our dark instincts lurk just below the surface, readily accessible at the slightest provocation. Don’t be fooled by the sheep’s clothing, we’re wolves underneath. Societal cohesion, then, requires biting our tongues, allowing those falsehoods to flourish that keep our inner demons at bay, as the truth can be dangerous.
“However, tonight, amongst you, my friends, I’d like to peek behind the curtain. I’d like to acknowledge what we cannot readily acknowledge; I’d like to un-bite my tongue, and say what we all know to be true but claim otherwise in polite company. I’m talking about culture. Specifically, I speak of the culture of creativity, as the decision this country faces in less than 100 days has the potential to determine the fate of that decisive yet delicate predilection.
“What is the ‘culture of creativity?’
“The culture of creativity nurtures and celebrates the divine gift responsible for man’s rise from Stone Age hunter-gatherer to Silicon Era info-engineer: his imagination. The culture of creativity venerates the glorious works that are the fruits of man’s ingenuity, such as the artist’s rendering, the philosopher’s insight, and the entrepreneur’s savvy—especially the entrepreneur’s savvy. Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.’ The culture of creativity undergirds growth and progress, my friends, because it honors improvement, honors achievement, and honors, not punishes, success.”
“But the culture of creativity is in peril. It’s in peril because the creators, those men and women of great ingenuity and insight, are imperiled. And if ‘they’ are imperiled, then ‘we’ are imperiled, as without them there is no ‘we’ by which I mean Americans enjoying the fruits of prosperity and progress. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You may wonder, who exactly are these creators, and just what is it that imperils them?
“The creative class isn’t defined by sex, race, or creed. Its members are not found just on one coast or another, or just in the academic quad or the churches where we commune with God. Like precious gems, they are found far and wide, but only rarely. And like precious gems their value is immense. You know their names: Alexander, Pericles, Augustine, Newton, Spinoza, Leonardo, Mozart, Morgan, Ford, Jobs. These are the creators, the great men and women whose insight and talent has delivered us from what the 16th century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, called man’s ‘nasty, brutish, and short’ existence.
“It isn’t acceptable to speak the truth about the creative class. We shy away from it out of fear of opening a Pandora’s box. Instead, as prisoners of our democratic ethos, we talk about ‘society’ and about collective achievements. We talk about great men only insofar as they stand on the shoulders of giants. Yet not everyone can be standing on someone else’s shoulders; someone of unusual strength and fortitude, an Atlas of sorts, must be propping up all others.
“Such candor, to be sure, can’t be offered up in polite company for fear of ruffling the feathers of those who prescribe to feel-good egalitarianism. After all, social harmony requires parroting lies to which we all can agree, and none is more sacred in our republic than the credo of equality. But keep in mind that all complex systems are made up of critical components whose functioning determines the larger entities’ fate. This is why history books focus on the exploits of the creative class, because its members and its members alone determine history’s course!
“We care not of the slaves who built the pyramids, but rather the visionary pharaohs who ordered the glorious structures’ construction; we care not of the railroad laborer who merely drove spikes into the ground, but rather the industrial geniuses derisively called ’Robber Barons’ whose foresight connected this country of ours from sea to shining sea, helping to make it the greatest nation on earth! We care most about the creative class yet we dare not admit it. Let’s admit it tonight.”
"My friends, I am here to tell you that the culture of creativity is in peril. It’s in peril because we are no longer what we once were. From a country of rugged individualists united in an insatiable desire for self-betterment, we have become a nation of lazy redistributionists defined by our desire for underserved reward. We no longer prize success; we’re jealous of it.
“How far we’ve fallen. The great observer of America, Alexis de Tocqueville, who first used the word ‘individualism,’ understood our essence as a people. ‘In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States,’ he observed, ‘and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.’ You see, my friends, we were, as de Tocqueville recognized, a nation that honored and rewarded its creators, a nation, dare I say it, that revered pharaohs, not slaves.
“Something has changed. The spirit of rapacious communitarianism is threatening to undo all that has made our country great. We now malign our creators, not venerate them. Too many of us believe the pious and politically correct nostrums about equality. This is no road map to prosperity, but rather the road to serfdom.
“Consider: In the last three-and-a-half years, we’ve burdened job creators by adding 106 new major regulations at a cost to business of more than $46 billion annually, yet we now have more than 46 million Americans on food stamps, or about one out of every seven citizens. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, yet over half of Americans pay no federal income tax whatsoever. We castigate ‘fat cat’ businessman and ‘greedy’ entrepreneurs for their pluck and drive, yet we lavish on ‘victimized’ homeowners who purchased under no duress or coercion houses they couldn’t afford. We threaten our mightiest corporations by promising to annul incentives for innovation and production, yet we wage a war on carbon dioxide and genuflect before Big Labor. We seek to restore our greatness, yet endeavor to do it by destroying that which has made us great.
“What do you call this, Ladies and Gentleman? A culture of creativity? I think not. It’s the opposite: a culture of lethargy. That must change. And it will. A cultural revolution awaits!”
“In less than a 100 days, the Romney-Ryan administration will restore our greatness. In less than 100 days, we will put the country back on track by restoring that which has made the United States what Lincoln characterized as ‘the last, best hope of earth,’ our culture of creativity!
"How will this be done? My friends, we will do it diligently and methodically. Even audaciously.”
[Laughter and clapping]
“On day one, my administration will submit legislation to Congress to repeal that $2 trillion job-killing boondoggle, Obamacare!”
“We can’t stifle our economy with malevolent laws that discourage hiring, and no recent law has been more damaging to the culture of creativity than The Affordable Care Act. But it’s not the only danger to our way of life. We will also overturn Dodd-Frank, a misguided job killing, innovation-stifling monstrosity that must be torn up immediately!”
“We will remove prying hands from the invisible hand by cutting thousands of federal regulations; we will free the free market by eliminating needless government departments and agencies. Capital must be made capital again! But that’s just the start, my friends. We will work to lower corporate income taxes so that American companies pay the minimum taxes possible, not a dime more. And we’ll also lower all tax rates, especially on those most responsible for our prosperity, the creators, as well as simplify the tax code so that, at 56 million words, it will no longer run seven times the length of the Bible! Why do Washington bureaucrats have more to say than God Almighty?!”
“All of this must be done, but it’s only half the equation. Restoring the culture of creativity requires restoring an appropriate societal equilibrium by rewarding initiative and success, but also by not rewarding laxity and failure. We require stakeholders, not freeloaders. How can we see to this?
“First, the Romney-Ryan administration will cut Medicaid by one-third over the next decade, or by $1.4 trillion. Healthcare is a privilege, not a right. Second, we’ll fix that government leviathan that threatens to single-handedly destroy the culture of creativity, Medicare. In 2010, spending on the program surpassed $560 billion; by 2022 that number is expected to surpass $1 trillion. This can’t stand. Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ll reverse this by capping Medicare expenditures and turning the program over to the states as a voucher. Third, we’ll privatize Social Security; where your money is invested is your right.
“Finally, we’ll go over all non-discretionary spending with a fine comb. Student loans, infrastructure spending, research and development, and the rest will be subjected to careful scrutiny and judged by one standard and one standard alone: does it promote human imagination or human stagnation.
“My friends, some critics may cry foul. Some may call this ‘Romney-hood’ economics. Some may call it elitist. Some may defiantly use terms like ‘social inequality’ and the ‘one percent.’ But through the din, my friends, we, you and I, know that the forces of growth and progress always prevail. History bears witness to this. History bears witness that human imagination and ingenuity, a precious gift bestowed by our Creator, are gloriously irrepressible.
“Michelangelo once said, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’ My friends, I see in this nation pent up greatness. We just need to set it free. We need to restore the ethos of pharaohs, not of slaves. God Bless these United States of America! And God Bless the Culture of Creativity!”