By Paul Krugman (NY Times) It’s important to understand the roots of this stuff. It began as a deliberate appeal to racism, with explicit condemnation of Those People as welfare moochers. Then it became more coded; Rick Perlstein posts the original, famous Lee Atwater interview containing the memorable passage,
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
What Mitt Romney is now complaining about is the horrifying reality that many people who aren’t black see themselves as victims of those “economic things” — and as a result anti-government rhetoric is turning into a way to lose elections rather than win them.