Ryan’s Rhetoric

Derek’s first blog post — EPS 518

I’m fascinated by the rhetoric used by some people to rationalize to themselves that poverty exists and by the way that they frame the issue. A thorough read of Paul Ryan’s Plan for Prosperity is an opportunity to see how conservatives who think the way he does view the conditions surrounding and leading to poverty. So much of the rhetoric used about those who aren't poor, or used to suggest that some of the poor don’t deserve to be poor, refers to the stability of a family or a background/upbringing rooted in American values and beliefs in a way that makes a direct ideological appeal and a statement. “….research indicates that work, faith, family and community are critical ingredients to people’s happiness.” His plan for prosperity reflects that in a concerning way. For example, under his plan welfare would be consolidated into one grant and distributed after consultations with case managers who would draft “opportunity plans” for them. The provided example opportunity plans of two hypothetical people’s situations are focused on securing jobs and families, which in my opinion are value-judgments of other people’s lives that public leaders have no right to assert upon their constituencies. The repetitive statements that the poor need to improve their family or community standing implies that they lacked it in the first place and that those are their reasons for being poor. And the appeal to the necessity of faith for happiness – I have no patience for that kind of appeal to cultural homogeneity.

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