Why Do Those Bitter Clingers Vote Republican?

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Liberal elites frequently profess astonishment at why so many  middle class Americans vote Republican.  Thomas Frank in 2004 published a book, What’s The Matter With Kansas , in which he bemoaned the fact that his fellow Kansans, or former fellow Kansans I should say since he resides in Washington DC, did not share his love of the Party of the Jackass.  Lee Siegel at The Daily Beast has a brilliant column in which he explains the political facts of life to the Liberal elites in the form of a letter from Occupy Harvard to their parents:

The man you think is a “sucker” because he votes for Republican candidates who don’t seem to give a hoot about him will vote for them every time. He looks at you, the crowd of The-Fix-Is-Always-In, and he casts his lot with the crowd of wealth and initiative.

You see, Mom and Dad, they don’t lie about his prospects. They tell him that he has to sink or swim. They don’t disrespect his willpower by promising that government will make life easier for him. They tell him that they respect his individuality. They tell him straight out what you, the liberal elite, know to be true but will never say. They tell him that life in America is winner-take-all, and that they are the people who will let him keep what he has. They tell him that his religion, his wife’s capacity to reproduce, his children—whether they are “successful” or not—are his treasure. They tell him that they don’t care if he is a person of modest ambition, little sophistication, and humble means. What they value is his capacity to change his own life.


What you tell him is that he should put his life in your hands. Yet you scorn his religion. You mock his faith in the sacredness of conception. You deride his belief in family. You tell him that his love for hunting makes him a murderer, and that his terror at being economically displaced makes him a xenophobe and a racist. Then you emasculate his hope for the future by telling him that if his ship comes in—that dream of a ship that makes the grinding disappointment of daily life worth living through—you’ll help yourself to a big slice of it. And you expect him to believe your rhetoric about fairness and equality when, all the while, you are accusing him of gullibility in his politics and bad faith toward the least fortunate of his fellow citizens. When, all the while, you are living untouched by your own policies. When you are cushioned against life’s hardness, not by government, but by simply knowing other people in your class. You expect him to buy your talk about equitable distribution of wealth when you are sailing through tax loopholes off into the sunset. For this man, his emotions make all the rational sense in the world.

Go here to read the brilliant restIt isn’t that the Republicans are experts at attracting middle class voters, they certainly are not generally, but the Democrats usually show true genius at repelling them.

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  1. Brilliant!

    Thank God 52% of “we the people” persist as producers and taxpayers.

    In general, democrat constituencies, e.g., the OWS crowd are amoral, cretinous, immoral, indolent, languid, vulgar creatures who seem convinced that it is the government’s duty to provide for them.

    Last week, a gang of self-identified “patriotic” millionaires was in DC propagandizing (up-scale street threater?) to end evil tax-cuts-for-the-rich. A right-wing provocateur asked each one (and gave the IRS Form) voluntarily to pay additional monies. They all refused.

    I would have sent them to the nearest US Army Recruiting Station.

  2. I especially love the reference to the “Party of the Jackass”. Perhaps the party’s new
    slogan should be “Always Braying, Always Obstinate, Always Sterile”.

  3. I read the Daily Beast column. Eh. Seems like a strawman argument to me. Ooo, those lousy rich hypocrites making fun of your hard work and your unborn child! Boo!

    I haven’t read Thomas Frank’s book, but I’ve read other things he’s written, and in my opinion he can’t grapple with the fact that the Republican Party is socially populist and economically elitist, and the Democratic Party is socially elitist and economically populist. That’s not to judge whether either party’s policies are correct; it’s just an acknowledgement that a lot of people are split between their social and economic interests.

    Frank looks at Kansas and can’t figure out why people vote against their economic interests. Well, Frank, that depends first of all on whether you think they are voting against their economic interests. But more than that, the idea that people vote strictly according to their pocketbooks is ridiculous. It reminds me of a question that Charles Murray asked: if you passed away, would you rather your children be adopted by a rich couple with poor morals or a good couple who was just scraping by? I think most people would choose the latter.

    Anyway, sorry if I went off on a tangent there, but lately I’ve been getting equally frustrated by the Bill O’Reillys and the Chris Matthewses.

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