Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Average Americans To Vote Against Their Own Self Interests

The Republican Party, getting average Americans to vote against their own self interests since 1964.  Why 1964?  Well, that's when Strom Thurmond switched parties, from the Dixiecrats, to the Republicans.  It was fine for Strom to have sex with his negro maid and father a son with her, but he wasn't going to help any African American climb the social ladder.

I used to be one of those Americans who believed the talking points and cherry picked data that Republican pundits and politicians used to spout in the 80s and early 90s, about how there were so many 'welfare queens' and minorities gaming the system. I used to lap up BS like this from the Heritage Foundation, as if it was fact.  Lazy people, who just needed to pick themselves up by their own boot straps.  When I was a kid, and my dad was laid off, we didn't qualify for food stamps in Indiana since my parents were paying their mortgage and owned a car, so we scrounged by and dad applied for job after job until he found one that paid our bills and used the skills that he'd apprenticed under.  I've been poor, and we raised ourselves up by our boot straps, so why couldn't everyone else?  I'd seen unions strip benefits from their rank and file in my extended family while stuffing their own union coffers and perpetuating inefficiency in the industries they touched to reinforce a negative opinion of collective bargaining as well.

Then, a few  years after we got married, Dr Desert Flower went to work for the Department of Social Services in South Carolina, part time, going after dead beat dads.  It was an eye opening experience.  Most of the dead beat dads and welfare pregnancy-baby-mill queens were white trash red necks.  This was in a state that was 50% African American. (note: a pregnancy-baby-mill queen is a woman who has 2, 3, 4, or more children, all with different baby daddies, who lives with none of them, because she gets both child support and state support for herself and her children; the more the kids, the mo' money she gets).  0% of the pregnancy-baby-mill queens were Asian.  Very few were black.  

Then, the longer we lived in South Carolina, the more rich/poor disparity we saw first hand.  And you'd think that with so many poor people struggling to make ends meet, that they'd support increasing taxes on the super rich, right?  But South Carolina was (and still is) one of the reddest, most devoutly Republican states in the "Union".  Arizona has a similar rich/poor distribution, except you can replace the South Carolina "black" with Arizona "brown" in the demographics, and swap the semi-literate trailing living white red neck in South Carolina with a very racist, white, semi-informed retiree or libertarian gun owner in Arizona.  It's different, but it's not much better. (though it IS much less humid)

So I marvel at how incredibly successful the Republicans have been at obfuscating the obvious, and deflecting the public's attention to polarizing social issues, fear mongering, and getting white people who are making less than $50,000 a year to support tax cuts for the millionaires who they hope they'll someday join.  How will those declining middle classers get rich?  By winning the lottery, or being on a reality TV show, or "working really hard and attaining the American Dream" - yeah, and that inner city kid is gonna be in the NBA someday too.  It's truly stunning at how well this has worked for Republican strategists.  Of course, they have LOTS of money, and now that Corporations are super-citizens (immortal, can't get the death penalty or be imprisoned, but have unlimited free speech), they can buy the best ads, public relations firms, lawyers, and marketing firms.  The silly Democrats just keep trying to appeal to the average citizen's common sense, and failing miserably - especially in the 2010 elections.

I understand how the richest 5% of Americans (of all races and ethnicities) vote for Republicans.  They are voting with their wallets, looking out for the viability of their own gene pools, and often very greedy.  That makes perfect sense.  But the rest of the 95% of Americans who have the other 49% of the remaining wealth, many of them declining middle class, most of them lower middle class or very poor, and a large percentage of them white trash...  I just don't get why any of them would vote for Republicans who claim they are looking out for the Average American while actually protecting the richest plutocrats who fund them.  It's truly a failure of Democrats to get a coherent message out, and an over-whelming success of Republican smoke-and-mirrors.

David Horsey captures the true essence of the Republican message, quite succinctly.  Horsey really is a genius.  Check out his work here (link).
Joel Pett at the Lexington Herald does some amazing work as well, beautifully capturing the moment in an insightful, poignant picture that says much more than a simple single or 4 frame cartoon is supposed to be able to logically do.  Check out his work here (link).

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