One of the myths surrounding vampires is that they can’t see their reflection in a mirror. I’ve come to the belief that there’s a certain “vampiric” nature with conservatives, at least when it comes to seeing their reflection. I started thinking about this while reading an article about Laurel County in Kentucky.
In southeastern Kentucky, hardship and need seem to spring forth from the cracks and crevices of the lush green rolling hills; they line the dulcet tones of the people who matter-of-factly recount their struggles to stay afloat. For the last half-century, the conundrum of calcified, generational poverty has stumped policymakers, with the luckless denizens of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains one of its most enduring symbols.
I’ve seen the same story repeated in many of the rural areas where I’ve lived. Jobs are few and far between, with those that are there often paying substandard wages. People struggle to “get by,” and the young leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Sad? Yes. But here’s the thing: They’re also often represented by … Republicans.
In fact, they’re often “reliably Republican,” when it comes to the voting booth. Which is why Kentucky has a Tea Party favorite Senator, Rand Paul, as well as hard-line conservative Representatives.
Laurel County’s representative, Hal Rogers, the Republican chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has pumped federal dollars into his district and said he is supportive of SNAP benefits for those who truly need them but railed against “scammers, lottery winners, gamblers and others who may be able to work but simply refuse.” He ultimately voted for the SNAP cuts, although 26 percent of his constituents use the program, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ranking the district among the 10 with the highest proportion of recipients.
So they voted the people in who are currently making their lives harder. Why? Because they’re also against the “scammers, lottery winners, gamblers,” and those who refuse to work. In other words, “somebody else,” who is “not them.”
It’s a common thread among conservatives, even the politicians. Paul Ryan came from a wealthy family, and used Social Security survivor benefits to pay for his college education, and since then, has only worked government jobs. Yet he’s a big fan of libertarianism and “doing it on your own.” Allen West grew up in a military family, had his education and healthcare paid for with tax dollars, and retired with a nice pension, courtesy of the taxpayer. But if you ask them, they’re “self-made” people, who work hard and aren’t “dependent” like “someone else.”
Which is why so often they’re stunned when their agenda is put into action, and the results are bad for them. Things they took for granted, or relied on, are suddenly gone. If they weren’t using it themselves, they knew someone who was, who had “hit a rough patch.”
Which is why the title of this post: Like vampires, conservatives can’t see themselves in a mirror. But if they could, they might not like the reflection, so that’s why they can’t look.