Last week, I started this blog about the degeneration of the Republican Party into a squabble of groups who do little justice to the values that made this country great. I characterized these groups as follows:
- Uneducated White Male Voters
- Bigoted Voters
- Greedy Voters
- Fearful Voters
- Religious fundamentalist Voters
These groups are relatively new to Republicanism and many of them albeit attracted to the messages of the Traditional Republicans actually have little understanding of the Traditional Republican values. You may well ask: “What attracted them to the Republican Party?” I will attempt to answer this question. I will also describe the above five groups in more detail.
There were forces both pushing and pulling these voters towards the Republican Party that started as far back as 1950. The pulling forces included the attractive messages that they would hear from the Traditional Republicans. “You too can be rich.” “Trickle-down economics.” “Say no to Big Government.” “No new taxes.” “Pro-Life.” “Keep America safe.” “We protect your rights.” These messages were very compelling and attracted voters for a variety of reasons. First of all, these messages built on the core Republican Values that I described in Part 1. Second, they were taken to extremes by the new marketing techniques that infused politics in the latter half of the twentieth century. Thus, the “Golden Mean” that I noted in Part 1 was sacrificed on the altar of marketing and political expediency to reflect messages that seemed “too good to be true and suspiciously unambiguous.”
Vote Republican and you too can live like the rich!
The Pushing Forces include the following changes taking place in US society:
- Demographic changes
- Ethnographic changes
- Economic changes
- Religious changes
Each of these forces contributed in many ways to the movement of a large contingent of voters away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party. We will take each one of these forces individually and see how it has contributed to the popularity of the Republican Party.
Demographic Changes include the aging of the USA population. It is a well-known fact that as people get older they get more conservative. The values of conservatism, safety, law enforcement, traditional roles for marriage, relationships and the role of women in society are all powerful forces that have propelled voters to the core value of Conservatism that is well established in the Republican Party. Liberals (who fell in favor) were seen as wanting to change too many of the “normal” institutions in the USA. Traditional Religious voters as well as older voters are generally inclined to support the status quo. The problem for many was: “how do we hold onto a status quo that is changing right before our eyes?”
“The population is also expected to become much older. By 2030, more than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970.” — Census.gov
Ethnographic Changes in the USA population include the influx of many groups into the country who hold values that are seen as “foreign” to traditional USA values. It is one thing for new groups who are Christian to enter the country, but over the past fifty years or so, we have had a much more diverse array of ethnic groups from countries where Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are the dominant religions. Many of these religions are poorly understood in the US and the practitioners are sometimes seen as promoting anti-US values. One example is the fear that many people in this country have for Sharia Law and the belief that Muslims want to overthrow the US Justice System and replace it with Sharia Law.
Partly responsible for a growing intolerance in the USA has been the fact that projections show that “White” people will become a minority in the USA in thirty years. This gradual erosion of the White majority means that White people must accept a more diverse society in which White morals and values will be one among several other sets of morality and not always the dominant one. This is hard for many people to take as Whites have always been in the power seat in this country.
“The nation’s demographics are on a clear trajectory: White people are dying faster than they are being born, which means they are on target to become a minority in the United States in 30 years.” — Whites projected to become a US minority
Economic Changes in the US economy started to noticeably impact the standard of living for many voters following WW II. At first it was imperceptible. There had always been changes in the economy with ups and downs, recessions and the Great Depression following WW I. However, after WW II, we had a respite from anything that could be called “Global Economics.” With the demise of Germany and Japan and the economic hardships facing Great Britain, France and several other European countries, we had the economic ball field to ourselves. The USA economic boom was reflected in a period of rising incomes and relative prosperity.
The attached chart shows that while USA productivity has continued to increase since 1945, real earnings have been either static or on the decline since the mid nineteen seventies. Whereas, we once had the playing field to ourselves, by the early 70’s the competition from other countries, particularly Japan, was beginning to erode the economic advantage we once had. By the late 80’s, wages in the USA were being impacted by the growth of industry in countries where wage rates were much lower. Foreign competition and increased levels of quality goods from other countries helped to erode the market dominance of traditional USA companies.
These economic changes have fallen particularly hard on voters in the USA who worked in what might be called “transitional” industries. Agriculture transitioned to manufacturing during the mid-twentieth century. Manufacturing transitioned to service beginning in the seventies. Finally, service jobs have become increasingly high tech requiring computer skills and often advanced education and training. People in the “Blue Collar” industries cannot be trained fast enough to fill the jobs needed in the new industries.
The recession in 2008 saw a loss of nearly 9,000, 000 jobs in the USA. Economists like to refer to these job losses as “creative destruction” or as an “economic correction.” The problem is that if you are the worker who does not have the skills to transition to a new job and you have a family to support, terms such as “Correction” do not help you to feed your family.
Recent statistics show that most of the jobs lost in the “Great Recession” have been regained. However, many of these new jobs are in lower paying industries or have gone to new workers with new skills in the labor force. The number of underemployed or unemployed people in the USA remains high and a source of major discontent. Our US system of reeducating workers is poor and in need of major overall.
The Republican Party and its messages have attracted many of these economically struggling voters to their party. The Republican values of hard work, individual responsibility and economic self-sufficiency resonate well with a group bitter over their economic hardships and who view too many others as getting a free ride.
Religious Changes may just be the single most powerful force pushing many voters and citizens into the Republican Party. Since 1900, the country has become increasingly secular and to some extent even non-religious. The following comment is from “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore:”
“According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends.”
Many of the more conservative religions and branches of religions that may have splintered off from their mainstream congregations have migrated towards the Republican Party. Again, the conservative family oriented values of the Republican Party have attracted many religious fundamentalists who oppose gay marriage, women clergy, abortion and creating a pluralistic culture where non-Christian religions are free to worship and practice their faiths. These religious fundamentalists see the secular changes coming to our country as evil and anti-scripture. They have organized many groups in efforts to resist these changes. This is from the mission statement of one of these groups:
“The Christian Coalition is committed to representing the pro-family agenda and educating Americans on the critical issues facing our society. Whether it is the fight to end Partial Birth Abortion or efforts to improve education or lower the family’s tax burden, the Christian Coalition stands ready and able to work for you.”
The Pulling Forces are the messages that voters hear from the Republican Party and which reflect its traditional core values. However, as they play out in the media, these messages are largely nuances and alterations of the traditional core Republican values. The messages have now gone through a process of “Madison avenue marketing” to make them more alluring and seductive to their intended audience. It should come as no surprise that various voters are attracted to various messages. Some of course may be attracted to all of the Republican messages. Let us now look at each of the individual voting groups that I labeled above to see how the Pulling Forces (Traditional Republican Values) and the resulting messages have attracted each group.
Uneducated White Male Voters:
This group is largely but not exclusively White Male and under educated. They are generally blue collar workers and many of them had their jobs displaced by the rise of Global Economics with offshoring and outsourcing of their work. New technologies and robotics have also taken many of the jobs that these group once did. They have been attracted by several Republican messages. From gun control to the value of free enterprise, these low educated voters have bought into the idea that a Liberal Government is out to take their rights away and make it harder for them to earn a living. Many of them can rightfully blame the government (both Republicans and Democrats) for using their jobs to stoke the fires of Globalization.
This group is attracted to the rhetoric common among Republicans for restraints on immigration and decreased government regulations. This group believes that if the USA government was not so big they would be much better off. They blame liberals for the laws promoting a Global economy and do not understand that education can help them. They often are willing to vote against any kind of education bill. Many of them were marginal students who were ill served by the education establishment in the past. They are no supporters of teachers, universities or increased funding for education. The Republican messages have amplified this anti-education theme to the point that Republicans are now deemed anti-science and anti-education and anti-immigration. It is also very easy for this group to buy into the myth that immigrants have stolen their jobs. They are lured by the type of messages that Trump has sent out castigating immigrants and particularly Muslims and Mexicans.
This group is not only uninformed but they are also misinformed. They have already made up their minds on the basis of limited and misleading information. They are biased, prejudiced and xenophobic. The Republicans have had a bag of dirty tricks which probably grew out of Nixon’s escapades in the 70’s and have continued through such political shenanigans as the Swift Boat attacks against John Kerry, the manipulations in Florida with the voting ballots and the Karl Rove fiasco in Ohio. This group is ready prey for the type of propaganda tricks that the Republican Party now use to lie, distort the truth and defame their opponents.
The Republicans seem to have thrown away any concept of ethics or morality when it comes to political elections. A squadron of Republican Talk show hosts from Mike Savage to Ann Coulter keep spewing out lies, misinformation, innuendos and calumnies against opponents whom they have no qualms about personally attacking. I would guess that many if not most of the “urban myths” that often dot the Internet have their genesis in some Republican think tank.
Some other recent examples include the “Birther” movement in which President Obama was alleged to have been born in another country and the messages sent out decrying his support of Islamic terrorists because Obama himself is alleged to be a Muslim. Those Ignorant Voters who subscribe to these lies and innuendos come to believe so strongly in them that there is no changing their minds.
The USA has become increasingly materialistic. Evidence of this can be seen in new traditions like Black Friday, Designer Lifestyles, Reality Shows and the narcissistic values that seem to be replacing traditional moral and ethical values in the USA. A large contingent of students today are not concerned about how their chosen careers will help their country. They are more concerned with how much money they can make when they graduate. Greed has been on the increase in this country for many years now. Republicans (always the party of the rich) were well positioned to capitalize on a bloc of voters who do not want to share their wealth. Oaths for no new taxes. Oaths to roll back taxes. Oaths to block reforms in Welfare and oaths to block the creation of a more equitable health care system for citizens have become ubiquitous in the Republican Party.
“We were fed this lie that hard work and dedication will payoff. That’s not true. There are millions of Americans who bust their asses working tons of overtime or two or more jobs just to get by – just to survive.” — Trickle-Down Economics, Greed and the Republican Party are Destroying American Values
A large number of US citizens today are afraid. They are afraid of crime. They are afraid of immigrants. They are afraid of minorities and they are basically afraid of change. The Republican messages have helped to drive this fear even further into the psyche of people in this country. Everywhere you go today there are gated communities, security systems, concealed carry permits and people afraid to leave the perceived safety of their feudal like communities.
Part of this fear has come from the aging of the population. As people get older, they get more concerned for safety and security. Part of the fear has come from constantly reading about “crime in the streets.” The news over reports and over emphasizes instances of crime and violence on a 24/7 daily basis. Finally, a large part of this fear comes from constantly hearing messages about the imminent attack of terrorists and others who are supposedly jealous of our lifestyle and want to destroy our country.
“In a Pew Research Center poll conducted in September, 75 percent of registered voters surveyed said that “terrorism” was “very important” for their vote in the congressional elections. Also last month, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 57 percent of Americans surveyed thought Obama has been too soft on ISIL.” — Republican ISIL fearmongering amplifies extremists’ message, experts say.
Religious Fundamentalist Voters:
These religious extremists are attracted to the family and religious values messages constantly being sent by the Republican Party. Anti-gay, pro-family, pro-god in the schools, anti-abortion, anti-women’s liberation messages are a theme of most Republican politicians today. The dramatic changes facing religion in the USA since 1900 has seen a decline in the traditional role of church and pulpit in family life. The increased number of working women, gay couples, divorces and abortions have fueled a desire on many conservatives to return to what they saw as the “good old days.” This actually means the good old days for white middle or white upper class heterosexual males. Not so good for women, minorities, disabled and poor people.
This group of voters believes less in a strict separation between church and state than that which was proscribed by our Founding Fathers. They would put GOD back in the schools and in some cases declare the USA a “Christian Nation.” There are many of these voters who have little or no tolerance for anyone outside their own religions. These so called Christians are characterized by a strong proclivity to support capital punishment, war as a first resort for political persuasion and the Ten Commandments as a foundation for a morality for all citizens. They seldom think of peace or diplomacy as a means of resolving disputes between nations. They do not see the hypocrisy between their contradictory messages of pro-life and pro-capital punishment. Furthermore, they are generally extremely literal and particularly narrow in their selection of Bible verses to support.
See the following short video for further evidence of what I mean.
Whither Goes the Republican Party?
Where should the Republican Party go? A party that has endorsed the immoral in its political campaigning. A party that fosters fear and war mongering. A party that is against immigrants. A party that is intolerant towards minorities. A party that minimizes the role of women in society. A party that discriminates against gay people. A party that will not treat disabled people as respectable members of society. A party that does not believe in the value of science or education. A party that fosters a contradictory and out of date set of moral codes (The Ten Commandments) as a foundation for our nation’s morality (My spouse disagrees with me on this, but there is ample evidence of the hypocrisy inherent in the Ten Commandments. Who observes the Sabbath and foregoes work on Sundays?). A party that has no compassion for the poor and underprivileged who may not have the ability to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”
Time for Questions:
Where should the Republican Party Go? You tell me please.
Life is just beginning.
“But my revulsion at the Republicans doesn’t begin and end with Iraq and Benghazi. It’s spread to many other issues over the years. Frankly, the GOP increasingly looks like a party in the grip of some form of hyper-partisan madness that takes self-destructive delight in alienating everyone who isn’t a far-right ideologue. What else can explain the up-is-down, black-is-white, counterintuitive perversity of the stances Republicans increasingly take in response to national news and trends?” — I’m not a Democrat. I’m an anti-Republican.
- A gun-toting maniac slaughters 20 children and 6 adults inside an elementary school. The GOP response? Loosen gun restrictions.
- Banks and the finance industry nearly topple the global economy. The GOP response? Oppose increased regulation of banks and the finance industry.
- Well over 90 percent of climate scientists present research in favor of anthropogenic climate change. The GOP response? Suggest that the scientists have joined forces with liberals in a big-government conspiracy.
- Economic inequality is increasing dramatically, especially at the very top of the income pyramid. The GOP response? Propose cutting taxes on the wealthy.
- The food stamp program has grown since the economic meltdown of 2008, which led to millions of Americans losing their jobs. The GOP response? Cut the food stamp program.
- Money is playing an ever-greater role in American politics. The GOP response? Cheer on the effort of the Supreme Court’s Republican majority to increase the role of money in politics still further.
- Wages have been stagnant or falling for many years, and raising the federal minimum wage is a broadly popular way of addressing the problem. The GOP response? Oppose raising the minimum wage.