Monday, March 27, 2017

Are People Waking Up to Fact GOP's "Small Government" Agenda Is Killing GOP Voters?

For years now - perhaps decades - the Republican Party has been wooing working class white voters to vote against their own economic best interests through appeals to racism, religious extremism, and other forms of hatred towards others.  It worked yet again in the 2016 presidential election.  Now, these manipulated voters who have been played for fools time and time again may be belated waking up to the fact that GOP policies are literally killing them.  The uprising of Trump voters and working class whites against the GOP plan to kill Obamacare is a case in point - especially after many receiving health care benefits woke up and discovered that the new found benefits they enjoying (and depending on to survive) derived from Obamacare.  Yes many will continue to fall for the GOP's toxic brew of racism/religious extremism/xenophobia, but perhaps the tide is finally turning, although not in time to have avoided the Trump/Pence nightmare.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at this possible awakening.  Here are excerpts:
In his inaugural address, President Trump vowed that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” He then suggested that the government has a responsibility to provide its “righteous people” with “great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.”
The hedge-fund billionaire who bankrolled Trump’s campaign takes a different view. Robert Mercer reportedly believes that “human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make,” and that “society is upside down” because “government helps the weak people get strong, and makes the strong people weak by taking their money away, through taxes.”
Thus far, Trump’s governing style has been more in keeping with his donor’s private views  . . . . The president has backed a health-care plan that finances a tax cut for millionaires by throwing millions of “forgotten” Americans off of Medicaid — while proposing a budget that would slash spending on public housing, food assistance, after-school programs, and development funds for poor rural and urban areas.
The fact that the new Republican president is serving as a loyal general in the one percent’s class war would be wholly unremarkable, had Trump not campaigned as a populist outsider. But then, if Trump hadn’t run as a populist outsider, it’s quite possible that there wouldn’t be a new Republican president.
Typically, Republicans attribute the despair of impoverished communities to the moral failings of individual poor people. But Trump never lamented the “culture of poverty.” Instead, he blamed the misery of the “forgotten” on rapacious elites who had failed to protect the “righteous” people’s economic interests. . . . This message — when liberally (or, perhaps illiberally) salted with appeals to white racial resentment — proved to be a winning one.
Trump gave the GOP the rebrand it desperately needed. But, thus far, he’s made few alterations to the actual product. And, judging by their failed attempt to pass a supply-side tax cut dressed as a health-care bill, Republicans believe that the only thing their agenda ever lacked was a racist reality star as its salesman.
But they are wrong about that: Movement conservatism is failing politically because its policies have never had less to offer the voters it relies on.
New research on the surging death rate among white, non-college-educated Americans offers a harrowing testament to this fact. In 2015, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton discovered that an epidemic of suicides and substance abuse was driving up the mortality rate of middle-aged, working-class, white Americans — even as medical advances were pushing down that rate for college-educated whites and every other racial and ethnic group. . . . .  the great recession, black and white non-college-educated workers have seen their mortality rates rise, across every age group. And working-class African-Americans still suffer higher death rates than white ones do.
However, only the non-college-educated white population has seen a nearly continuous rise in its mortality rate over the last two decades. And that jump has been driven by a uniquely high spike in “deaths of despair.”
[N]on-college-educated white workers have seen their economic prospects drop from a higher peak — and no countervailing narrative of cultural progress has arrested their sense of decline. This foreboding can pervade whole communities, and lead their most vulnerable members to seek relief in drinking, drugs, or death. . . .  economists suggest that these breakdowns are “rooted in the labor market.” 
Movement conservatism’s other anti-poverty prescription — instilling self-reliance in the poor by kicking them out of their welfare hammocks — also withers under the paper’s scrutiny. The United States has the thinnest safety net of any major, western nation. And it is also the only such country in which non-college-educated white workers are dying much younger than they used to. . . . . the rationale behind House Republicans’ push to add work requirements to Medicaid — that providing a minimum standard of health care to the indigent unemployed breeds an unhealthy dependency — is hard to reconcile with the superior health outcomes of workers in European nanny states.
[T]he GOP has grown more radically right wing; income has grown more concentrated at the top; and Republicans have grown ever more dependent on the nonaffluent for votes.
Now, even the GOP base supports more government spending on health care and opposes tax cuts for the rich.
Republicans can continue putting the superstitions of misanthropic billionaires above the needs of their downscale voters. But in doing so, they will send more “forgotten men and women” to early graves. And, eventually, the righteous people may take the GOP down with them.
One can only hope that this growing realization accelerates and that some will learn to change the channel from Fox News.  

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