Why do Republicans hate the poor? Or the elderly, the unemployed, the sick or anyone else they see as the reason they don’t get to “keep all they make”?
The highly oversimplified one word answer is “conscience”. Now before you all start going off with massive generalizations about Republicans “having no conscience” yadayada, that’s simply not true. Almost everyone has a conscience. I was going to say everyone has a conscience, something I used to believe until Mitt Romney came along. Now I’m realizing that indeed, there are exceptions to every rule. Let’s just say that everyone except the most extraordinary assholes has one and go with that.
The difference lies in the fact that for people like me, a conscience is an internal mechanism that keeps them from doing things that might unnecessarily hurt other people while for many of the GOP’s core base, a conscience is an internal mechanism that causes them to go to great lengths to justify… at least to themselves and each other… the things they do that unnecessarily hurt other people. In the case of the poor:
Devin Barber once blogged that the The first and foremost reason Republicans hate the poor is that the poor are a constant reminder that someone had to lose for them to win and this simple truism is the basis for most of the right wing hating on the poor. There is supposedly only a finite amount of wealth out there… in our case, more than enough for everyone to have a fair share… and in order for anyone to get more than their share of it, someone else has to get less than their share. This is simply a fact of life and has been since the first cave man decided he was entitled to more of the tribe’s shiny rocks than the rest of the tribe put together (based no doubt on the fact that he already had a rock or two more than everyone else) and invented Capitalism to make it so.
Let’s say you’re a rich CEO or industrialist or financier. You’ve already reached the point in your life where there are no more worlds to conquer, no more resources to exploit and possession has become the only yardstick by which you can measure your own self worth. You’ve managed to shut down those little pangs of conscience that might otherwise cloud the twin joys of acquisition and ownership, those being the only fuels that still power your miserable little existence and have no qualms about taking from someone else in order to satisfy your lust for more.
The problem now is how to make your total disdain for the “common people” look good to enough of those very people that they will actually support your efforts to take what they have and the solution is to focus their anger at being required to make do with less… not at people like yourself in whose pocket the wealth will actually wind up… but at those even smaller and more vulnerable than themselves. And for that, you need a totally false narrative or a whole laundry list of false narratives… myths, if you will… that keeps the attention of the easily distracted focused ever on the next lower rung on the economic ladder.
You can’t justify taking food from the mouths of children… even to yourself… until you have sufficiently demonized those children… or at least their parents… so as to paint them as totally undeserving of even their small sliver of the pie. So you invent myths designed to do that in the eyes of those who might otherwise consider you a thoroughly rotten sonofabitch for making kids go hungry and in America there is no shortage of gullible sycophants even among the working classes. All you have to do is keep hammering those myths incessantly into those people until you’ve molded them into perfect little copies of yourself… only without the wealth you enjoy.
One of the most common myths being pushed by the rich these days is that poor people are only poor because they are lazy. This is bullshit and so obviously so that I’m still surprised by the ease with which a huge number of working Americans accept it without ever once bothering to actually look the numbers up for themselves. Most poor people I know work damned hard for 40 or more hours a week… many working two or more jobs… just trying to cover the basic necessities. Are there people out there gaming the system? Sure there are. The number of people doing it and the amounts involved vary widely according to whose “facts and Figures” you’re using but one thing is abundantly clear: The amount being lost to fraud or abuse in no wise justifies the elimination of the safety net for the millions of Americans who have… over the past five years… found themselves in dire financial circumstances that are not of their own making.
The notion that only the lazy are being subsidized by public assistance programs is even more ludicrous to anyone who actually knows someone who is poor. Most of the people who are counted as “poor” don’t get any public assistance at all because they don’t qualify. I myself make do on a total monthly income of $874 a month from Social Security. This qualifies me for less than $40 a month in food stamps for which I would have to give up the SSI portion of my little stipend rendering it a moot exercise for the most part (although the amount I receive from SSI has dwindled to far less than $40 at this point). That’s the sum total of the public assistance to which I am “entitled” to use a beloved Republican meme. In fact, most of the poor receiving assistance do so in the form of some kind of food assistance, a situation that has not gone unnoticed by the oligarchy as we’re seeing in the regenerated “outrage” over the food stamp program and it’s “lax” eligibility requirements. Welfare agencies are NOT handing out checks to just anyone who comes in and asks for one.
Basically, the reason that Republican politicians hate the poor is the same reason they do everything else they do these days… because it’s where the money is for their lords and masters on Wall Street (and of course for themselves). Nothing personal you understand but a person has to go where the money is and that salary from the taxpayers is not conducive to a politician’s transition to the one percent side of the equation during his or her first five years in office.
But the overall reason most rank and file Republicans hate the poor and feel the need to attack them on a daily basis is to justify their own greed and… not incidentally… give themselves a reason to feel superior to someone else. They’ve been conditioned… programmed if you will,,, to do so, not because it’s in their own interest, but because it’ serves the purpose of that 5% of the population who simply can’t be satisfied with more than half the pie for themselves while the other 95% spit up what’s left. Those lower echelon ones… the ignorant and proud of it contingent of the Republican Party will continue to vote and act against their own interests for as long as the rich can keep them convinced that there is someone lower on the totem pole than themselves to blame everything on.