Have you ever wondered why so many poor people vote for Republicans, even though Republicans do very little to help them? Here in Louisiana, Republicans have taken every state-wide seat in government, and they couldn’t have done it without convincing the poorest people in the state to vote against their self interests.
Over last few decades, Democrats have been losing ground with rural and working class voters, and here are five of the reasons why I think traditional populist Democratic strongholds like Louisiana or West Virginia have turned their backs on the party.
5. Liberals can be really elitist: I hate to have to say it, but it’s true and I’ve been guilty of it myself. How often do you see liberals respond to conservatives by asking if their parents were brother and sister or using any number of other ad hominem attacks? It’s a regular occurrence in the comments on liberal Facebook pages and websites, and it’s not productive. I get it, it feels good to blow off steam and let that conservative person who frustrates you so much know how you really feel. However, if all you know how to do is attack someone’s character by calling them stupid or a shill, you’re not going to persuade them to see things from your point of view. What it will do is further alienate more moderate conservatives who could be convinced that some gun restrictions aren’t a bad idea, just to give you an example.
4. Racism: I’m putting racism in here because there’s almost never a discussion about why poor people vote conservative without racism being cited as a reason. While there are certainly racists who identify as Republicans, simply writing everyone off as racist for voting Republican is stereotyping, stupid, and counterproductive. It’s also elitist and condescending, which is a problem many liberals have, as mentioned above. It is true that quite a few Democrats left the party after Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and became Republicans, but those people tend to be 70 or older.
3. They’re “pro-life”: Few things besides gay marriage get religious conservatives more worked up than abortion. Having grown up in the “pro-life” movement, I can tell you that while some religious people (especially Catholics) tend to support Democrats on economic issues, they’ve been told by their pastors that they could go to Hell for voting for someone who is pro-choice. I can remember our pastor (who was allegedly soliciting other men during his off time) when I was a teenager warning about how liberals were evil and that a vote for a candidate who wasn’t 100% “pro-life” would put our souls in mortal danger.
2. Fox News: In order to keep people voting the way you want, you need a propaganda source. My friend Chad R. MacDonald from QuietMike.org explains how Fox News serves the Republican Party so well:
Throw Fox News into the mix, which Politifact recently reported as disseminating more false information than truth. When you travel through Red States, Fox News is on in most gas stations, fast food restaurants, and public areas. An unabashedly conservative media outlet, Fox News continually broadcasts a right wing agenda to its viewers.
They blame The Other; immigrants, ethnic minorities, LGBT Americans, and women, while saying people need to “take America back” They repeatedly bash the President, give platforms to lobbyists and corporate shills, and constantly work to undermine progress and support obstructionists. They do all of this while telling the viewer that they are the chosen people of God and America.
Then they tell you the most important part, everyone else is lying to you. Don’t touch that dial. Fox News creates fake “wars” on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and whatever will shock their audience. This paranoia is sown to distract their viewers from voting from the GOP’s real war on poor people. (Source)
1. Religion: Calvinism is one of the two major camps in modern Christian American theology and predestination is part of Calvinist teachings. To many people it sounds like a horrible concept, but it explains part of why poor people vote for Republicans. In a nutshell, everything including the fate of your eternal soul was determined by God, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. If you’re poor, it’s part of “God’s plan” and it is not our duty as individuals or the government to help. If someone is rich, then they were chosen to be rich by God, and we shouldn’t punish them by making them pay more in taxes. Calvinism and the belief in predestination are rarely mentioned in political discussions, but they’re a huge factor when it comes to conservative Protestants and how they think.
As long as Republicans continue to exploit these advantages and we fail to counter them, poor people will continue to vote for the GOP – especially if we continue to write them all off as being poor, racist, ignorant rednecks when so many of them are not. We can convince people not to vote against their self interests over and over again, but it will take time and a lot of patience.
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