Mitt Romney today told a crowd at a rally the story of his niece, whose husband was called up to the National Guard, leaving her with a new home, a deaf daughter, and not very much money. He got choked up at the end:

If you can't watch video where you are, this is the important part:

But she now had to live on a much lower income. National Guard salaries aren't as high as they were in his law firm. Now she's in this home and the outside of her is a whole dirt yard. No grass or anything yet, just stones and dirt. And under the neighborhood association where they have this home, you got a year from the time you buy your home till the landscaping’s supposed to be in.

Well, she's a little bit concerned cause that time period is coming up. She doesn't have the money to do the landscaping, to pay for it. She's got a little girl that is getting various tutoring classes and speaking therapy. She wonders what's going to happen. She's concerned.

One morning, she comes outside and there are her neighbors all picking up the rocks out of her yard, raking the dirt. They put in a sprinkler system. They laid down sod. They even build a swing set for her daughter. This is the America that I love. [Here's where he got teary and paused for a second.]

This is a great people. We can do anything. We can achieve anything.

Now, look. I'm not going to dispute Romney's emotions. It seemed like a sincere moment, and I'm sure it's a true story. But I hate when conservatives use these sorts of stories of communities coming together as an excuse for entirely ripping up the social safety net. While communities should come together to help those who are in trouble, there are sometimes entire communities in trouble. Sometimes, nobody can help. Sometimes, nobody wants to help. Everybody needs help at some point in their lives, and sometimes, these tearful happy endings just don't materialize. That's where a civilized government steps in.