Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What’s the Matter With Republicans?

Over the past two months the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress have proposed a budget and two health care plans that would take benefits away from core Republican constituencies, especially working-class voters. And yet over this time Donald Trump’s approval rating has remained unchanged, at 40 percent. During this period the Republicans have successfully defended a series of congressional seats. What’s going on? Why do working-class conservatives seem to vote so often against their own economic interests? My stab at an answer would begin in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many Trump supporters live in places that once were on the edge of the American frontier. Life on that frontier was fragile, perilous, lonely and remorseless. If a single slip could produce disaster, then discipline and self-reliance were essential. The basic pattern of life was an underlying condition of peril, warded off by an ethos of self-restraint, temperance, self-control and strictness of conscience. Frontier towns sometimes went from boomtown to Bible Belt in a single leap. They started out lawless. People needed to impose codes of respectability to survive. Frontier religions were often ascetic, banning drinking, card-playing and dancing. And yet there was always a whiff of extreme disorder — drunkenness, violence and fraud — threatening from down below.

   Robert's favorite comment at the linked source follows;

herry Jones Arizona 6 minutes ago This frontier fantasy of self-reliance never existed. Good grief: government gave land to farmers for free back in the day, and today's red state farmers are the beneficiaries of that massive government largesse. If we gave people what we did to settle the American frontier we would have free college education and business grants equivalent to the income-producing potential of 40 acres, in addition to transportation (railroads), communication (telegraph) and utilities (electricity) etc etc. Frontiersmen did not value going it alone in hard times. Even the earliest colonies had overseers of the poor, and when women were stricken in childbirth, or children's fevers rose, men got on their horses and ran like the wind for help, and the doctor came and took as payment whatever the person could afford, even if just a dozen eggs, or one loaf of bread. The ACA is about as close to frontier healthcare as you can get, providing healthcare for free to the poor, linking premiums to ability to pay, and mandating maternity coverage. If frontier doctors had done what Republicans want to do today (cut coverage for the poor and opt out of maternity care) they would have been reviled as greedy and selfish. Those are not frontier values; they were borne of the Republican party's metamorphosis into a party that today caters exclusively to the anti-government, anti-tax, and anti-regulation agenda of the very rich.
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