Skip to comments.Meet the Poor Republicans
Posted on 05/14/2005 3:33:42 PM PDT by neverdem
Last week the Pew Research Center came out with a study of the American electorate that crystallized something I've been sensing for a long time: rich people are boring, but poor people are interesting.
The Pew data demonstrated that people at the top of the income scale are divided into stable, polar camps. There are the educated-class liberals - antiwar, pro-choice, anti-tax cuts - who make up about 19 percent of the electorate, according to Pew. And there are business-class conservatives - pro-war, pro-life, pro-tax cut - who make up 11 percent of voters.
These affluent people are pretty well represented by their parties, are not internally conflicted and are pretty much stuck in their ways.
But poorer voters are not like that. They're much more internally conflicted and not represented well by any party. You've got poor Republicans (over 10 percent of voters) who are hawkish on foreign policy and socially conservative, but like government programs and oppose tax cuts. You've got poor Democrats who oppose the war and tax cuts, but are socially conservative and hate immigration. These less-educated voters are more cross-pressured and more independent than educated voters. If you're looking for creative tension, for instability, for a new political movement, the lower middle class is probably where it's going to emerge.
Already, we've seen poorer folks move over in astonishing numbers to the G.O.P. George Bush won the white working class by 23 percentage points in this past election. Many people have wondered why so many lower-middle-class waitresses in Kansas and Hispanic warehouse workers in Texas now call themselves Republicans. The Pew data provide an answer: they agree with Horatio Alger.
These working-class folk like the G.O.P.'s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.
According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.
The G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.
But when you look at how Republicans behave in office, you notice that they are often clueless when it comes to understanding the lower-class folks who put them there. They are good at responding to business-class types and social conservatives, but bad at responding to poor Republicans.
That's because on important issues, the poor Republicans differ from their richer brethren. Poor Republicans aspire to middle-class respectability, but they are suspicious of the rich and of big business. About 83 percent of poor Republicans say big business has too much power, according to Pew, compared with 26 percent of affluent Republicans. If the Ownership Society means owning a home, they're for it. If it means putting their retirement in the hands of Wall Street, they become queasy.
Remember, these Republicans are disproportionately young women with children. Nearly 70 percent have trouble paying their bills every month. They are optimistic about the future, but their fear of their lives falling apart stalks them at night.
Poorer Republicans support government programs that offer security, so long as they don't undermine the work ethic. Eighty percent believe government should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt. Only 19 percent of affluent Republicans believe that.
President Bush has made a lot of traditional Republicans nervous with his big-government conservatism. He's increased the growth of nonsecurity domestic spending at a faster rate than Lyndon Johnson and twice as fast as Bill Clinton. But in so doing, he's probably laid down a welcome mat to precisely these poorer folks.
Even so, Republicans have barely thought about how to use government to offer practical encouragement to the would-be Horatio Alger heroes. They've barely explored their biggest growth market. If Republicans can't pass programs like KidSave, which would help poor families build assets for education or retirement, then Hillary Clinton, who is surprisingly popular with poor Republicans, will take their place.
That is the thrust of this article. That Kerry's latte liberal secularism completely failed to speak to the lower middle class.
What the latte liberal in his arrogance fails to comprehend is that the blue collar parent does not see Karl Rove or "theocrats" or "*" or "Talibornigans" as the enemy. The blue collar parents daily struggle is to keep the street away from his/her children and if you give them a religious grounding when they are young, maybe when they are 13 they will still mind you and stay away from drugs and gangs and promiscuity. The secularist liberal is so incapable of respecting religion that he cannot see the world through the eyes of a blue collar parent.
Bump for later
Maybe you could finish a degree online. Good luck Horatio Alger!
God bless you. I admire your dedication to your children.
Your situation is one like I was thinking about in my post-if the pork was taken out of our taxes, then the programs that help people while they are establishing themselves and working hard, would have the money they need....without dispute.
But, when the Federal Govt. keeps throwing good money after bad in the School financing, costs of health care and housing and education of illegals...NO WAY
Do you know that if one of your children wanted to go to the University of Texas (even with proof of your lower income status), he/she would have to pay humongous out-of-state tuition, but an illegal immigrant who isn't even supposed to be in this country, will get instate tuition!
BTW---IMHO, The Capital Gang on CNN is the most propaganda filled communist show on TV!
A point I never, ever tire of making is that the social conservative is the child and grandchild of New Deal Democrats and the grandchild of William Jennings Bryan Populists. He flatly does not trust the morals of big business and wants a government that will stick up for him instead of looting this country to the benefit of multinationals.
We live in a society in which zip code indicates your income. The blue collar Republican does not live in the same town as the rich pro-business Republican. He knows the rich pro-business Republican can just wall himself away from the problems he faces every day. He knows the rich pro-business Republican will never send his own son to war, can move his money offshore, and reeks of free traitor callous indifference to people like him.
The NYT and the rest of Planet Left are hoping against hope for an HRC-versus-RINO contest come next presidential election. Only this time, they're starting early because they can't stand the prospect of another Democrat loss.
I am the poorest republican here!!
*plays sobbing violin*
oh wait...I got a job, food in my belly, and a roof over my head...oh yah and a pick up truck(yeehaa)
Hell I am doing better than most of the free world and all of the not so free parts :)
perspective...its all bout it! :P
Your analysis is spot-on. I live in what is predominantly a blue-collar GOP town, and this is exactly the sentiment that exists. Trade and immigration are the hot issues in these areas.
I LIVE in upstate NY...and Hillary the Bitch isn't popular with me!
I think you underestimate the intelligence of the poor republican and I also believe that the NY Times is full of it. In fact, I bet most poor republicans would agree that the economy benefits from these tax cuts to the wealthy.
Your reply has a flaw.
I was born a blue collar Democrat...realized at an early age that my values were those of a Republican..
..and I worked and studied hard..and became a professional..
So..am I now a "rich" Republican..who doesn't know anything about or care about "poor" Republicans?
Nope... I WAS a poor Republican!
My values and beliefs now ..are the SAME ones I had when I was poor.
..and I didn't envy or hate the rich then.
I was one of the poor blue collar Repubvlican "optimistic individualists"..described in the article.
In the USA..if you are smart and are willing to work hard..you succeed.
BTW, Brooks is, at least he describes himself as a conservative, somewhere on the right side of the political spectrum.
Because David Brooks is the liberal's "conservative," the William Safire replacement. He's always willing to tell you how the Republicans get it wrong. He's always willing to tell you how the Democrats are getting it right at the same time.
Not that he needs to do a whole lot of work figuring out the former, when there has been no Contract for America push by Bush or Congress, and the Democrats need only point fingers and say "they suck" to look better than the GOP to the average sheeple in the media.
Glad you made the big time. However, your pulling your own chain if you think you're speaking for the working class, Republican or not. Amongst the working class there is a growing resentment towards both the haves and the have nots. The haves for their success and the have nots for their entitlements. Anyone who's arguing otherwise is living in a dream world.
You just stumbled on the "consensus building" process.
If you had said, "some republicans would agree..." I might have agreed with you. Most? No way in hell. The vast majority of people aren't particular adept at big picture, long run thinking, regardless of party affilliation. The vast majority of people are only able to discern the immediate benefits.
Maybe I'm getting dense. Could you explain to me what I'm missing?
Sorry, meant to respond to poster #2. My apologies.
This article is right on the money.
Both parties are the captives of their upper middle class constituencies. As a consequence they are indifferent to the economic interests and moral values respectively of blue collar voters. Indifference breeds resentment. In the Minutemen movement, a movement of blue collar Americans who think their government has sold them out, we are seeing the first thunderclaps of that resentment.
There is such a cryin need for a party that is nationalist economically and conservative on cultural values. Such a party could dominate American politics. And frankly, Nowhere Man, if Hillary could even pretend to be such a politician, she would win in a landslide and in the process rebuild the Democrats as the new majority party. That is what is at stake here.
You live in DC! Just kidding.
The gap between the Porsche driving Georgetown democrat and the democrat in Capital Heights is another.
We do have a pseudo-royalty in this country who is far removed from the wealth that suffered to found this country. It is on both sides. The difference with the current bunch is that they have no higher calling other than their own pockets, ego and "Legacy."
Social programs, public works, etc.
Bump for later.
So what is your solution? Use the power of the government to level the playing field?
That would mean taking from the haves (which never works) and taking from the have nots. Sounds like a successful election plan to me!
Both groups are socially conservative. Democratic fixation of sexual deviations and abortion is what keeps these voters divided. Otherwise the Reagan Democrats would return to their original voting patterns.
also the party of the non-elite private sector producers of this country.
Remember, these Republicans are disproportionately young women with children.
and husbands !
And how exactly does outsourcing, job-exporting free trade agreements and illegal immigration empower blue collar Americans ?
Isn't government being used already to tilt the playing field against working Americans ? Government policy determines the level of immigration. A decision to leave a border wide open IS government policy. And the result of that policy is to depress American wages by flooding the labor market with cheap third world labor. Refusing to penalize employers who hire illegals, giving 100,000 H1B applications even as 15% of American tech workers are unemployed ARE government policy.
That would mean taking from the haves (which never works) and taking from the have nots. Sounds like a successful election plan to me!
Sounds like taking from the have nots (which works far too often) and giving to the haves. Great if you live off of investments. Lousy if you live off of a paycheck. Sounds like New Deal II on the way if Hillary can ditch the sodomites.
A glaring paradox of our society today.
And the illegal alien benefits business is bringing it to a head.
The republicans and congress better be very careful.
In agreement with you here.
You know if the bureaucracy (state and federal) didn't make it so damned hard to start businesses, there would be fewer people needing to "earn a paycheck".
You are absolutely right.
A Reagan Democrat is not a Republican. He is not a Republican because while he is patriotic and culturally conservative and repulsed by the moral degenerates who have taken over the Democratic Party, he believes that Republicans will look out for fat cats and big money and not working stiffs like him. He believes that GOP economic policy is set by people whose money is in the Cayman Islands and whose sons are most definitely not in Iraq.
Power of government is being used to UNlevel the playing field. When there is s shortage of workers in some field, the market forces are NOT allowed to raise the wages - instead special government program imports cheap workers from abroad.
This is the key question! Otherwise we have choice between joining Latin America or becoming Sodom and Gomorrah. If so we will have to chose the first.
Not everyone can or SHOULD be a physician. There are no reason why honest people who do less skilled jobs should live in poverty.
Whose CHILDREN are going to pay the bill?
Definition of poverty in America?
Cable or satellite TV
Couple of cars that run
All the best junk food money can buy
Two income family on minimum wage earns $21,424. This exceeds the poverty level.
90% of the time people's income levels later in life depend on choices they made earlier in life.
You are confusing the talk with the deeds. Keeping wages low does not help "blue collar workers gaining more resources and wealth". Wages (and yes, benefits) is all they get.
They are secure as long as Democrats are kept on "gay" side.
"traps come off" = "tarps come off"
The short of this seems to be, "poor voters continue to vote for candidates who serve the rich because of their own (bigoted) social conservativism".
The left tried beating this drum leading into the 2004 election. "If ONLY they would all support the Democrats..."