Romney the sociologist: Doubling down on culture comments


Mitt Romney’s comments about culture and disparities between the Israeli and Palestinian economies may have caused a stir, but the Republican candidate isn’t running away from the topic. Instead he’s doubling down.

After previously arguing that he wasn’t talking about Palestinian culture in his original remarks, Romney has now published an essay for the conservative movement’s flagship magazine, National Review, on the role that culture plays in creating prosperity.

In his essay, published online last night, Romney writes:

But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.

Regarding Israel, he writes:


Israel is also a telling example. Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows has some quarrels with Romney’s essay and also thinks that the topic is a distraction for his campaign. 

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