by Whitney Pitcher
Our nation’s political messaging has often been one of dichotomy–splitting America in half to pit us against each other. Both political parties are guilty of engaging in this kind of talk. Some Democrats in recent years have discussed America in context of the 1% (the wealthiest Americans) versus the 99% (the rest of us), essentially trying to capitalize on the pitting the nation’s proverbial “haves” versus “have-nots”. Meanwhile, some Republicans have seen things in the context of the 53% of Americans who pay federal income taxes versus the 47% of those who do not, in essence trying to dichotomize Americans as either productive or lazy. The truth is not every “one percenter” is greedy, nor is every ninety-nine percenter selfless. Not every fifty-three percenter has a strong work ethic, nor is every forty-seven percenter lazy. In reality, the dichotomy (and the disconnect too) comes between the permanent political class and the American people–primarily the working class. The working class primarily would fall into the 99% or the 53%. These individuals are self-sufficient enough to not be dependent upon the government, but not wealthy enough to be of importance to most politicians seeking campaign donors.
Too often, the working class are political pawns for union bosses and Democrats and frequently only discussed in the context of the “small business owner” for the pro-business (but infrequently pro-market) Republicans. There are rare politicians, however, who recognize that the working class are not political pawns, nor are they a class of citizens the government needs to do something for. They are a class of citizens that the government needs to stop doing something to! Tony Lee and Stephen Bannon co-wrote a great piece at Breitbart yesterday highlighting Governor Palin’s ability to connect to the working class and how the Senate immigration bill has been a slap in the face to the working class:
“Meanwhile, the upper middle classes in coastal cocoons enjoy the aristocratic privileges of having plenty of cheap household help, while having enough wealth not to worry about the social costs of illegal immigration in terms of higher taxes or the problems in public education, law enforcement, and entitlements,” Hanson wrote. “No wonder our elites wink and nod at the supposed realities in the current immigration bill, while selling fantasies to the majority of skeptical Americans.”
Last Friday, a panelist on Fox News’s Hannity’s panel of black conservatives, which included Sirius XM Patriot’s David Webb and Breitbart’s Sonnie Johnson, emphasized that the Senate’s immigration bill would have a “detrimental impact” on black Americans.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), one of the most critical opponents of the immigration bill, noted that the bill would hurt working class Hispanics in addition to all working class Americans and the “poorest among us.” Sessions noted that according to the CBO report, the bill would have a devastating impact on wages of Americans looking for job security, and it would raise the unemployment rate while only solving 25% of the illegal immigration problem. He posited that between 30 million and 50 million workers will be added to the labor force in the next ten years, completely destroying the possibility of upward mobility of working class Americans of all backgrounds. Yet, Republican senators like Murkowski (R-AK), Rubio (R-FL), Ayotte (R-NH), McCain (R-AZ), and Graham (R-SC) voted for the final bill.
“Why would any Member of Congress want to vote for a bill at a time of high unemployment, falling wages?” Sessions asked on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
For Republicans to win back the majority and the presidency, they need to win the so-called Reagan Democrats and a new generation of working class minorities who will have to become Reagan Democrats 2.0. They need to win over the father who got laid off from his manufacturing job and has a child who did everything society said to do–go to college, get a degree, find a decent-paying job in the technology industry–and now may meet the same fate his father did when the labor market is flooded with an influx of cheap immigrant labor brought to do jobs Americans supposedly do not want to do.
These Americans that the immigration bill most adversely impacts make up the backbone of this country and see in Washington a permanent political class who are against them and think they “can’t cut it.” They see in Palin, though, someone who fights for them because she simply “gets” it–and them.
Governor Palin linked the above mentioned piece on her Facebook page, commenting in part:
Once again, I’ll point out the obvious to you: it was the loss of working class voters in swing states that cost us the 2012 election, not the Hispanic vote. Legal immigrants respect the rule of law and can see how self-centered a politician must be to fill this amnesty bill with favors, earmarks, and crony capitalists’ pork, and call it good. You disrespect Hispanics with your assumption that they desire ignoring the rule of law.
Folks like me are barely hanging on to our enlistment papers in any political party – and it’s precisely because flip-flopping political actions like amnesty force us to ask how much more bull from both the elephants in the Republican Party and the jackasses in the Democrat Party we have to swallow before these political machines totally abandon the average commonsense hardworking American. Now we turn to watch the House. If they bless this new “bi-partisan” hyper-partisan devastating plan for amnesty, we’ll know that both private political parties have finally turned their backs on us. It will then be time to show our parties’ hierarchies what we think of being members of either one of these out-of-touch, arrogant, and dysfunctional political machines.
The immigration bill does negatively impact the working class, but the political connected will benefit. Although he ultimately voted for the bill, Democratic Senator Leahy would boost corporate cronyism. Big GOP donors ultimately want “comprehensive immigration reform” to pass as well. What will the House GOP do? Will they cave to political pressure in order to receive the needed money for their next re-election–their own constituents be damned?
The immigration bill is not the only way that the working class is being passed over for the sake of the political connected class. Look no further than the next divisive issue de jour–climate change. Earlier this week, President Obama gave a speech touting his next “green” push. This push was gleefully described by an Obma adviser as a needed “war on coal”. The war on coal has already started, however. In President Obama’s home state of Illinois, in the blue collar town of Decatur, nearly 500 Caterpillar workers were laid off this past Spring. Caterpillar is the world’s largest maker of mining equipment, and with decreased coal mining, less mining equipment needs to be manufactured. Meanwhile, President Obama is promising $8 billion more in green energy loan guarantees in his new climate change plan. Past is often prologue,and in the 2009 stimulus package, 80% of Department of Energy loans went to companies with connections to Obama donors. It would surprise no one if this new round of loan guarantees again go to the political connected. Suffice it say, yet again, the working class gets a pink slip while the permanent political class get “green slips”.
The working class are not simply a voting bloc, however. They are the backbone of our country and the essence of Americana’s John Does. As so well voiced in “John Doe’s” speech in Frank Capra’s “Meet John Doe” (H/T to this great Rebecca Mansour piece from 2009):
We are the meek who are supposed to inherit the earth. You’ll find us everywhere. We raise the crops; we dig the mines, work the factories, keep the books, fly the planes and drive the buses. And when a cop yells: “Stand back there, you!” He means us, the John Does!
America’s John and Jane Does are the hope of the earth. The permanent political class would do well to recognize them not as a group to be placate or to be pandered to, but instead as the very people who made America what it is today and who make it what it could be tomorrow, if the permanent political class does not transform America into something unrecognizable.
Updated: Please also see this great piece from earlier this year by our very own Gary Jackson with a wonderful reference to “Meet John Doe”.