The Republican Party of the Poor

A couple significant things happened to me on and just after Election Day, and I think they’re worth noting for the survivability of the Republican Party – and conservatism in general.

Immediately after it was announced that President Obama was re-elected, mass hysteria broke out in my heavily African-American – and heavily poor – apartment complex. People were coming out of their apartments to joyously scream Obama’s name into the sky.

Most disturbingly, I heard one woman speak just outside my window. She said something to the effect of: “Romney said that the 47% didn’t matter. Well, we really showed him!”

The next day in my car, I heard a caller on a local talk radio program voice some concerns about the unequal ground that Democrats create by repeating lies about themselves and their opponents (i.e. calling conservatives racist until – unquestionably – they are, saying that liberal policies help the poor until it becomes heresy to suggest otherwise, etc.).

The caller pointed out that not only is this very effective recruitment, but that conservatives tend not to participate in these ploys; it’s not in our blood to scream down our opponents or label them as racists for disagreeing with us. The Left will continue to enroll ignorant participants like the woman mentioned above with dirty tactics while conservatives are left to watch their valuable economic and social ideas go extinct.

Not quite.

The key to our survivability lies in changing the conversation by spreading our own tidbits of unquestioned dogma. The best part is, we don’t have to lie. It’s time for the Republican Party to become the party of the poor.

It needs to become commonplace to hear: “I care deeply about those poorest and most vulnerable in society. Of course I’m voting for the Republican.” Presently, the loudest motivating factor for those on the right sounds more like: “I want to keep the money I earn. I’m voting Republican to keep the government’s hands out of the pockets of hard-working Americans.”

Meanwhile, conservative policies are the only hope that the most vulnerable in society have. If we’ve got it, we might as well flaunt it.

Liberals overwhelmingly support minimum wage laws, leaving conservatives to look like the defenders of rich employers who abuse their workers. Not only does the minimum wage not help the poor, it’s one of the most effective tools of keeping them down in society.

What you do when you institute a minimum wage is force employers to discriminate against unskilled workers, who are young people, minorities, and most despairingly young black males. If the market values a 17-year-old black male at $5 an hour, but the employer is forced to pay $8.25, then you can be sure the employer is going to opt to hire someone more experienced to get more value for his dollar. One of the greatest gifts that has been given to young middle class whites has been the minimum wage. In fact, the last year that black unemployment was lower than white unemployment was the year before the first federal minimum wage law was passed.

Liberals are never hesitant to raise a tax to pay for something new they want. Recently in my home state of California, liberals raised one of the most regressive taxes on the poor in order to avoid spending cuts to higher education. Proposition 30 raised income taxes on the rich and the sales tax as well.

What’s interesting about the sales tax is that it disproportionately affects the poor, who spend a greater percentage of their income on consumption than other groups of income earners. The poor make nearly all their money from wages, and, like my family, live paycheck-to-paycheck. Once again, upper-middle and middle class college kids profit off of the backs of the most unfortunate in society.

By now you should be realizing how sickening it is to hear liberals champion the Yay poor people slogan (especially since conservatives give to charity at far greater rates than liberals).

It’s the same sad story where liberals are allowed to exercise their ignorance in public policy. Where Democrats have political strongholds are where cities rot away because of the demoralizing effects of welfare and entitlements. Black children do not get a fair shot at success because they’re trapped in terrible government schools that continue to exist because liberals oppose school choice. Policies like rent control (sold as a way to stick it to rich landlords) contribute to nothing but run down apartments and housing shortages.

Heck, even those non-important social issues that conservatives refuse to shut up about like protecting marriage and the sanctity of life benefit impoverished groups.

The message of conservatism is beautiful and inspiring, but it isn’t complete. Freedom, prosperity, and individualism need to be packaged and delivered in a way that makes it obvious that one of the motivating factors of the movement is to pull up those who need it most. You shouldn’t have to open a Thomas Sowell book to know that conservatism is best for everyone.

Time to spread a new message: have some compassion for your fellow man, vote Republican.

Keith Fierro | Cal State Fullerton | @KJFierro

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5 Responses

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  1. Jayne
    Dec 06, 2012 - 02:32 PM

    Very good article. You and commenter Sean must be amazing young men, you both shed light on a Republican weakness that can be flipped into a strength. I agree and would like to add the idea that the Republicans can inspire people to go into business alongside their messages on employment.. It is such a natural fit for Republican to overlay the hope of micro businesses onto their positions on freedom from onerous regulation and property rights for profits.

    A simplistic idea that nags at me is that the Republicans could go far by crafting tag lines for these ideas and just repeating them until they become part of the atmosphere that the low information voter ends up coming to “own” the ideas. The Democrats are so brilliant at that. Witness “hope and change”. The Republicans can bring out their, much better, ideas too, with our own sappy little sayings: “A Mom and Pop Shop on Every Block,” (my absolute favorite), “Your Future Looks So Much Brighter With Prosperity,” “Working For Yourself Helps America Get Stronger”. Dopey little sayings get the Democrats far and our ideas can make a much stronger impression. As a, couple of, famous men once, or twice, said, “Just words?”

    It seems to me that you have the exact right idea that our task is to make it a part of the zeitgeist, an underlying belief in society, that Republican plans liberate and promote prosperity for the poor whilst Democrats simply tend to the care and feeding of the poor with no possibility of something better and brighter.

    It is so great to hear this from young folks, keep up the good work, guys!

  2. Sean L
    Nov 26, 2012 - 11:41 PM

    THANK YOU, Keith. I’ve had this conversation with my dad many times in the past few weeks. He hates the idea of changing the conservative message, but I counter that we only have to emphasize different aspects of it. Less “the people who have get to keep more of it,” more “we can help you get good jobs and make prices lower.” I think one of those talking points needs to be emphasizing what welfare should be: a way to get people back on their feet. We talk about it being a safety net, but I think trampoline is more appropriate: a proactive welfare system that softens the blow of economic hardship and helps people find jobs. Perhaps a system where people can get economic benefits provided they are actively looking for a job, or something like that.

    If (or when, more like) the economy bottoms out, conservatives will have an opportunity to show people a better way. We just need to know what we’re going to say, and how we say it.

  3. Christopher Rushlau
    Nov 26, 2012 - 07:56 PM

    Should be “touch”. Sorry.

  4. Christopher Rushlau
    Nov 26, 2012 - 07:54 PM

    It’s not quite as simple as you make it. Packaging, is that all? We’re concerned with laws here, law, and the law. Is that all just some sort of instrument that delivers justice if it is properly built and maintained? Can we swap out a minimum wage law for a higher employment rate?
    Law is a conversation about justice where people bet with their property and, especially, with their lives. Sacred honor, in a word.
    I think the thing you have to deal with is Israel. Israel stands for the idea that law can lie, cheat, and steal in a very small department that really doesn’t tough US people directly. “Jews have a hobby: they like to torture Palestinians.” That’s a line out of the movie Woody Allen would love to make but is afraid to. It’s actually a paraphrase of a line from “Hannah and Her Sisters” spoken by Allen’s character, a line ending with, “You knew I had this hobby when you married me.”
    That hobby destroys law, because it destroys the idea of free conversation. A comparable example from US history is slavery and the Founders. That omission took “four score and seven years” to almost destroy the country.
    Israel’s racism backed by US power has given us the Global War On Terror which has quadrupled the price of oil. And today that scheme is crumbling. Ehud Barak is retiring from politics in Israel. Morsi is sweeping out Mubarak’s judges. This is the continuation of the American Revolution.
    It is the redemption of the law.



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