April 21, 2012
The general stigma and opinion of the majority of the American people is that the Republican party and their policies favor the wealthy. If so many people believe that a particular political party has only a small elite in their best interest, why do so many still continue to vote for them? A question needs to be asked, why do working class, low and middle income families, continue to support a party that gives little to no benefit to them?
A New York Times/CBS News poll was released last October and showed that 70% of all Americans believed that the policies of congressional Republicans favored the rich. In addition to the backlash towards congressional Republicans, two-thirds of Americans actually disapprove of continuing tax cuts for corporations and millionaires. President Obama’s recent proposal, the “Buffett Rule”, which would place a minimum tax rate of 30% on millionaires, failed in the Senate with a 51-49 vote. Only one Republican voted for the bill, falling nine votes short of the 60 vote super majority it needed to move to the House of Representatives.
Though the “Buffett Rule” failed in the Senate, if a 60% threshold was needed among the American people, the bill would have passed with flying colors. According to a recent CNN poll, 72% of Americans favor the “Buffett Rule,”blowing away the numbers shown in congress. These numbers show where the majority of Americans stand when it comes to economics, but it doesn’t translate in the polls when it comes to election time. On most occasions, both the Republican party and the Democratic party each gain around 45% of the electorate, with the remaining 10% swinging in either direction depending on the mood of the country. While Democratic voters are mostly working class Americans who are more inclined to change and accepting others, Republican voters stick to their ideology and are much more resistant to change.
It makes economic sense for the wealthiest Americans to vote for the Republican party because they want to protect their own private finances without giving others, including themselves, the chance for more upward mobility. What makes people scratch their head is the idea of a working class family, making $50,000 a year, voting for a party that continues to give tax breaks to the wealthy and paying for it by cutting the programs that benefit the lower and middle class income families. The Locust Fork News-Journal did a story about a retired Auburn History professor and author, Wayne Flynt, who has written about why Americans often do vote against their best interests in his book “Poor but Proud.”
“It’s partly because preachers tell them that the Democratic Party is a godless party…It’s party because the Democratic Party is made up of a large number of African-Americans, and working class whites just won’t vote that way.”
Dr. Flynt points out that before the 1960s and 1970s, social issues such as abortion, gay rights and religion weren’t talked about as much as they are today. As the years have gone on, social issues and their importance have mixed together with the economic issues of our time. In many southern states, Evangelical Christianity makes up the majority of the voters, most of them Republican. With the recent insurgence of the Tea Party movement into the national Republican party, religion and Christianity has made its way into the secular society of the United States. Today, more than ever before, religion has found its way out of the home and churches and into the public square, a place where religion was never intended to be when our founding fathers began to craft the United States constitution. Dr. Flynt makes a very important statement when it comes to Americans and their idea of the importance of their religion and its impact on society.
“If you are a truck diver, a plumber, an electrician or a steel worker and you live in Alabama, you say, ‘Well, I think my religion is the way everybody ought to think,… but, let that same guy move to Salt Lake City, Utah (where the majority is Mormon) or New Jersey or Connecticut (where the majority is Catholic) or Dearborn, Michigan, (where the majority is Muslim), and he won’t think so highly of the idea that the majority of people ought to impose their religious values on the minority.”
Even when conservatives leave the comfort of their conservative church, they quickly turn the TV to the right wing news station, Fox News, or set the radio dial to conservatives mouth pieces like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Michael Savage. Fox News, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, has been accused of multiple instances where they have taken a far right bias when reporting the news. The “journalists” on Fox News twist facts around to misinform their viewers and push them towards the Republican party. While conservatives hold Fox News close to their hearts, the rest of America can’t take them seriously. With conservative talking heads like Bill O’Rielly and Sean Hannity blasting any political position that isn’t far right conservatism, independent voters often see through the bias and turn the TV off.
The Republican party and the pundits who support them, use an agenda of fear, channeling the ways of former Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. In the 1950s, McCarthy had accused hundreds of Democrats in the United States of being members of the communist party without having any proof of his claims. As the years went on, the American people took McCarthy and his fear agenda as a sad and pathetic joke. The current Republican party goes further than McCarthy did, using what conservatives hold close to them against them, their religion. Republicans push the fear of gays, Muslims, atheists and others who aren’t evangelical Christians onto conservatives voters, using those fears to bypass many economic issues that could normally work against them.
Whether it’s religion, fear or simply a case of misinformation, conservative voters have been getting the wool pulled over their eyes for years and it’s not only affecting them, but the entire country. The Democratic party is far from perfect, but more often than not, their policies represent the best interest of the majority of the American people. Until the media becomes accountable for the truth in their reporting and Americans start to think outside the box and accept that others might have some good ideas, the American people will have to continue to weather the storm of Republican destruction.