How The Republicans Captured The Middle Class
By David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)
The Democrats are confused and clueless about why the Republicans are winning so many elections.
The Democrats are sitting there saying:
“The Republicans want to cut social security, gut Medicare, freeze the minimum wage, eliminate food stamps, eliminate middle-class and working-class health insurance, and unleash the banks, insurance companies and big corporations on consumers. How is possible that working-class and middle-class people are voting for them?”
The Middle Class Is Voting Republican Because Of Brand Identity
They’re voting Republican because the Republicans have built a positive Brand Identity for themselves and a negative Brand Identity for the Democrats.
Those identities are not factually true but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that people believe them to be true.
The Republicans’ Message About The Democrats
What is the Republicans’ basic message about the Democrats? It’s:
“The Democrats are going to take your money and give it to those illegal immigrants and drug addicts and welfare mothers with six illegitimate kids. If the Democrats get in they’re going to tax the hell out of you and spend what’s left of your hard-earned money on those lazy losers.”
Every time the Democrats talk about helping the unemployed or the refugees or the homeless they reinforce that message.
Every time the Democrats talk glowingly about free trade they might as well be saying:
“We want to give your jobs to those poor under-paid foreigners so that they can have a better life instead of you.”
Hillary Clinton had the chance to make her campaign about stopping companies from sending jobs abroad, but she refused.
Hillary could have made her campaign about going after Wall Street and Big Pharma but she didn’t.
Donald Trump did.
The Less You Have, The More Afraid You Are Of Losing It
When times are hard, when everything you have seems to be slipping away, when you see that there’s no future for your kids, you become very protective of what little you have left. You get frightened that someone, the Democrats, are going to take that away from you and waste it on those people who don’t deserve it.
You become very receptive to messages that feed that fear.
The Republicans’ message to the middle class about the Democrats has effectively fed that fear.
The more the middle class is squeezed, the more the working class sees their life getting even harder, the more they are terrified of losing what little they have left to the bogey-men lazy losers to whom they are told the Democrats want to give a free ride.
Of course, none of that is true, but the Democrats have done nothing to explain or promote a reasonable, workable agenda. In fact, the Democrats don’t even have a plan or a policy or an ideology beyond some vague “Let’s all try to get along and be nice to each other.”
Yeah, that will appeal to a thirty-something couple with two kids who are working their asses off and still living paycheck to paycheck and are terrified that what little money they have left is going disappear down the rat hole of free everything for illegal immigrants and unemployable alcoholics and drug addicts and welfare mothers with seven kids and no fathers.
The Republicans have built an ideological structure that’s somewhere between socially unworkable and downright toxic but it holds together with an internal consistency, namely the myths:
- Lower taxes on the rich mean a higher standard of living for the middle and working classes.
- When rich people and rich corporations get even richer, everyone will benefit.
- Releasing businesses from safety, consumer and environmental laws will improve everyone’s standard of living.
- Poor people are poor because they are stupid and lazy
These are all either lies or fantasies depending on whether or not the speaker actually believes them but they sound good and, more importantly, they play into people’s fears and desperate hopes.
By scaring the middle and working classes with specters of the Democrats raising their taxes to breed herds of immigrants, drug addicts, and welfare cheats, the Republicans have successfully advanced their twin objectives:
- More money for rich people by shifting the tax burden from the upper class to the middle and working classes.
- More money for rich people by turning businesses loose to do whatever they want
This Scare Tactic Has Worked Before
How many times have politicians told white voters:
“That other guy is soft on the Coloreds. If you elect him the Coloreds are going to get your jobs. The Coloreds are going to get your schools. The Coloreds are going to get your women.”
And it worked.
Now the Republicans are telling the working class and the middle class:
“If you elect the Democrats the blacks and the Hispanics and the welfare losers are going to get your money.” And it works.
The Republicans’ Brand Identity
The Republicans have built a brand identity: “Lower Taxes, Less Government.”
In reality their brand identity is:
“Lower taxes on rich people and no restrictions on what corporations can get away with” but the Democrats have not even tried to slap that label on them.
To the middle class and part of the working class, the Republicans’ brand identity is:
“No tax money for lazy losers. More jobs for white Americans.”
Democrats’ Brand Identity According To The Republicans
What is the Democrats’ brand identity? According to the Republicans it’s:
“Give Your Money To Poor People” and “Hamstring Honest Businessmen With Useless, Stupid Laws”
Neither the Republicans’ nor the Democrats’ brand identities are factually true, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that a large number of voters believe them to be true.
The Republicans understand that. The Democrats don’t.
Hard Times = Fear
The poorer the country gets, the more frightened the voters get that what little they have left is going to be taken away from them.
The more frightened they get, the more they’re going to vote against the Democrats.
Unless and until the Democrats figure out a new brand identity for themselves and, just as importantly, a new one for the Republicans, they’re going to continue to lose Congressional elections.
–David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)