A reader writes:

You couldn't have picked snottier terminology than "makers and takers." I lost my job in December, and right now my family subsists on about the median household income. That means, by your apparent definition, that I'm a taker, since progressive taxation guarantees that I'm a "recipient of redistribution."

The vast majority of Americans are just like me: we're "makers" who are also "takers." We have jobs, we work hard and take care of our personal business even though we don't have much money. Broadly speaking, a lot of us middle-class "makers" are also "recipients of redistribution" in that we don't, by conservative standards, pay our fair share of taxes. And thank God; spread the tax load evenly and an awfully lot of productive and self-sufficient people are going to be suddenly poor. I, personally, would suddenly be without health care and unable to keep my son in the local public university he attends. (There are few things more subsidized than public education.)

Do you really think the Republicans are going to assemble a majority out of those who want to gut Social Security (one of the most successful "taker" programs in human history), health care, and just about everything else government does to make our country a more civilized place to live? Maybe you ought to define just exactly what you mean by "makers." Then calculate how many of them aren't going to be offended even a little by the Democratic agenda. Then figure out how conservatives are going to find majority support without resorting to the same kind of divide-and-conquer strategy they've worked since Nixon.

The key to Republican success in the last few decades has been getting people angry enough about crap issues like flag burning and gay marriage that they'll vote against their own economic interests. Now we're staring into the abyss, and one of the good things that's happening is that those largely irrelevant social issues don't have the punch they used to have. If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who's lost his health insurance. At that point, you don't really care that much who's sleeping with whom.

There's a legitimate debate about the role of government to be had, and I'm personally hopeful that the massive deficit we're experiencing right now will force us to have it in the next few years. I agree that debate offers enormous opportunity to conservatism, at least as conservatism is aligned with making government smaller and less intrusive. But to imagine that the dividing line is going to be between "makers" and "takers" is more simplistically suitable for Limbaugh than The Dish.

I'll clarify in the a.m. But calm down. It's not as bad as it sounded.

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