Gone are the days when the Republican Party might hope to win over a few conservative Democrats in the manner that Ronald Reagan was said to have in 1980 and 1984. The Republican's now need to be more concerned about an exodus of moderate Republicans to an increasingly perceived moderate, 3rd-way and centrist Democratic Party.
In a previous blog post I pondered upon how living in a "red state" turned me from a moderate Democrat to a Green socialist. Here, I will ponder how moderate Republicans may be increasingly likely to become Democrats. Whether it is the shear hypocrisy of "the-right wing-cum-'tea party'" on budget deficits (remember is was former Vice President Dick Cheney who said deficits don't matter) the social contract/order shredding budget of Paul Ryan- Willard "Mitt" Romney, or the lunacy shown in the likes of Oklahoma Republican Congressman Paul Lankford who proposes that discriminating based on sexual orientation should be allowed the Republican Party may not be driving moderate Republicans to Obama per se but they do seem to be moving some into what is, by many estimations, a moderate Democratic Party.
In reflecting on an excellent article in the Economist which dealt with the question of why segments of the middle-class in the United States, mostly but not excluded to White males, even consider today's Republican Party in general and in Willard "Mitt" Romney in specific I felt putting a spotlight on class issues in my own extended family was in order.
The conventional wisdom is that "this" segment of the middle-class somehow identifies with the Republican agenda; historically generally one of promoting "family values," a strong military, "small government" and the like. But what is the mythology and hypocrisy in this assumption?
Republican Senator David Vitter, recently departed Republican Senators John Ensign and Larry Craig, 2012 Republican Presidential nominee and former House speaker Newt Gingrich prove in microcosm that "family values" is but a rhetorical device within the Republican "establishment" as they have been proven time-and-again to operate with a "do as I say not as I do" scorn for their middle-class constituencies. So in the realm of "family values," or lack thereof, Republicans offer no authority or rhetorical comfort.
Without surveying decades of evidence and anecdotal citation, for expedience sake I will concede that, in general, the Republican Party has historically been more interested in issues regarding the military though we can see a profound shift herein during the Obama administration. But in so "conceding," I must note that they pursued these "pro military" policies all while running up massive deficits and while overseeing a bloated and oftentimes inefficient military bureaucracy. So at best, Republicans offer but a draw in this area.
And when we look at "small government," we need simply look at the intrusive, nanny-like existence found by citizens residing in many "red states" where legislated, state-demanded medical procedures are required of women, where in some states alcohol is sold not by private small business but rather through state-run enterprises and controlled by the same, and where draconian budget cuts are being extracted from the most vulnerable within the population -- empirically and statistically many of those subjected to such austerity are and will be white males and/or there families by way of cuts in education, cuts in general assistance by way of food and health expenditures and the like. All this "austerity" while many monied interests like the Koch brothers and ALEC pour treasure chests in to the political coffers of the few Republican operatives who seek to do their masters' bidding. Such is the case in Wisconsin where embattled Governor Scott Walker has been brought to defend his loyalties after being subject to recall . . . and where much of my extended family resides.
The Economist article offers the following and in its assertion, I find much truth vis-a-vis my decidedly middle-class and historically "Republican-leaning" relatives:
"Instead of opposing redistribution because people expect to make it to the top of the economic ladder, the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution.
In keeping with the notion of “last-place aversion”, the people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them: rewarding the “rich” but ensuring that someone remained poorer than themselves. Those not at risk of becoming the poorest did not seem to mind falling a notch in the distribution of income nearly as much. This idea is backed up by survey data from America collected by Pew, a polling company: those who earned just a bit more than the minimum wage were the most resistant to increasing it.
Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable."
Republican/Koch/ALEC/ Walker/Romney-Ryan austerity hit home to much of my extended family as in Wisconsin Walker has seen fit to drastically cut back on BadgerCare, Wisconsin's Medicaid program for children and low income residents of which one of my cousins is a recipient.
Using the "divide and conquer" technique of despots throughout history, Walker admitted as much in recently released video footage where he talks about "breaking" organized labor and trying to "turn Wisconsin red" all while garnering a large share of his financing from outside-the-state, corporate sources. Apparently corporations and the elite can have heavy-hitters and representation but the middle-class and labor can not!
In the specific case in point, the fact that my cousin is in jeopardy of losing his "BadgerCare" has become a great concern and stress on his family who are on fixed income with all but his part-time working father retired. This impending familial disaster has forced his parents (my white aunt and her white husband for what it is worth) to abandon support of Scott Walker choosing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett instead in the recall election and has them seriously considering a straight-ballot Democratic Party vote in the Fall. Why such a sharp turn to the middle on their behalf? Beyond Walker's allegiance to the rich and powerful is the fact that one of their other sons is gay. We can even go further; their daughter in law is a public school teacher and one of their daughter's has been a single mother during a portion of her life. In other words, a family largely reflective of real America! You know, the one Sarah Palin claims to represent as she fled to Canada for healthcare as a child.
In Political Science they call it "realignment," when there is structural change and shift occurs within political entities and the outside of them vis-a-vis the electorate. Generally, this happens every generation or two and/or during times of structural socio-cultural change, change we can see today in the the science of demography or simply by following the US census data. Many "Republicans" in Illinois (and other large, diverse states) are actually in practice right-of-center Democrats having far more in common with President Obama than they might ever understand if they ever left the richly blue state that Illinois is and tried to live the same lifestyle in a red state. The "Republican" mind-set that permeates much of "red state" mentality is nativist and is cloaked in a complex set of layers (noted in part in the Economist article) many of us already can observe: a conformist mind-set that condones if not outright supports racism (or certainly racial preferences), anti-intellectualism (including to a great extent questioning the value of "academic" versus "vocational" high school), a gullible type of conformity, and a strange, convoluted love-hate relationship with authority. Realignment is what caused "Dixiecrats" to afford Nixon his "southern strategy" and the same group that laid the groundwork for today's "tea party" and for the radical lurch right in today's Republican Party. Realignment is what motivated me leftward to the Green Party and that which has moved much of my extended family from being moderate "blue state" Republicans to becoming Democrats. I have encouraged them to continue "leftward" toward genuine middle-class and family friendly policies as articulated by the presumptive Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but I figured that moving toward moderation and pro American middle-class by way of the Democratic Party's 3rd-way perspective is a good start and a good place in reclaiming America for the middle . . . class.
Tags: 2012 Presidental Race, ALC, Allegiance, America, America Future, Austerity, Ayn Rand, class, conservatism, conservatives, Democrats, Demographics, Dystopia, Elections, Ethnicity, Koch, liberalism, Paul Ryan, Republicans, Romney, Scott Walker, Socialism, tea party, United States, Wisconsin