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.
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..."