Red States: Do You Enjoy Getting Hurt?

In the previous post, I talked about the reality that while Republican governors and legislatures have succeeded in implementing their political philosophy in their states, that philosophy has been a miserable failure when it comes to actually delivering what they think it will.  In fact, it has been a disaster for their states.   Besides that, while we like to talk about the economic recovery that the country has seen under President Obama, the sad reality is that it’s been an uneven recovery, particularly for those same states.  That has led to a lot of very angry people who are upset with the Republican Party for not delivering the economic boom they were told they’d have, and as result have been the reason why Donald Trump has had so much support in the primaries.

That phenomenon was detailed over a decade ago in the book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”   It’s been even more pronounced since 2009, when President Obama took office, as Republicans have been pulling out the stops when it comes to convenient scapegoats and distractions.  Gun control, immigration, terrorism, abortion, marriage equality,  Obamacare, you name it, the scare tactics were given full play.  While that enabled Republicans to either tighten their control of some states, and take over others, the economic theories were also given full tryouts.  Cut the taxes, remove regulations, stop unions, reduce or remove workplace and environmental rules, and all sorts of jobs would spring forth in an economic boom.  The results?  Anything but.

It turns out that “low taxes, low regulations” don’t actually cause businesses to relocate very often, and didn’t result in a major job boom.  What jobs that were created tended to be low-paying ones.  Even worse, what jobs that were being created weren’t in the areas that were the most in need of them.  The result was massive state deficits, decaying roads and declining schools, and now cutting people from Medicaid and SNAP benefits to balance a budget.   But there’s always another scapegoat that the Republican lawmakers will happily point to, to distract from what is happening.

What the distraction is from is that it’s not  just “other people,” i.e.; blacks, browns, gays, Muslims, etc., who are getting hurt by these cuts, it’s them.  Any rural, mostly white area often has a high percentage of people reliant on benefits of one sort or another, they need infrastructure funding, and they need aid for schools.  Everything that Republican’s would like people to believe are only a “big city slums” problem, when the data says something quite different.  Because they’re only seeing the scapegoats, they don’t see it’s not some hypothetical urban minority who is “too lazy to find a job,” it’s their friends, neighbors, and relatives who are bearing the brunt.   The “promised land” of jobs and booming business never appears, no matter how low the taxes get, or how few the regulations are.  Instead, they’re looking at fewer jobs and a poorer quality of life.

That’s been obvious for years now.  Each election cycle, even when the country is in an economic boom, their areas still lag behind, and fall further when a bust hits.  But over and over again, they will march into a voting booth, and elect (or reelect) politicians who will keep enacting the very things that have hurt them.  No matter how much they get hurt by Republicans, they still go back to them.  It’s almost like a case of domestic abuse.

The reason I said that, and where part of the title comes from is from what I said to a subordinate some 30 years ago.  She seemed to be irresistibly attracted to men who would beat her.   One day, after getting told of yet another police report, and seeing her again with bruises, I called her into my office.  In sheer frustration, I asked her “Do you enjoy getting hurt?  I really have to wonder.”   In looking at the Republican controlled states, the same question comes to mind about Republican voters.  Do you enjoy getting hurt?  I have to wonder, because you keep electing Republicans when all they’ve done is hurt you.  Over and over again.  Maybe you should stop that.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Red States: Do You Enjoy Getting Hurt?

  1. Norbrook, I agree with every word. I think their underlying motive is, as you say, that this will hurt minorities and so lift themselves up. They will not be the lowest rung on the totem pole because even if they are in the same circumstances as the minority groups objectively, they still, by virtue of their white skin, are superior. That is probably not true for all, but for some it is. I think the usual response from liberals is ‘you’re too stupid to know what’s good for you”. Which is kind of like white people telling black people they know better what black people need than even the black people too. Black people are rightly insulted and outraged by this. (See Sanders campaign’s success with minority groups). We basically tell them over and over how stupid they are. So it’s no surprise to me that they don’t listen. I don’t gladly accept advice from people who look down on me; I resent it. I think liberals need to listen and not, like I just did, make assumptions about what is going on here. In a class I once took, we learned about first order change and second order change. First order changes are adjustments to the current situation. They do not engage people’s deeply help beliefs, morals, values. They are fairly easy to accomplish, reversible, and require no new learning or skills. Second order changes are transformative, often irreversible, require new learning or skills, and do affect people’s most deeply held beliefs, morals, values. (What may be a first order change for one person may be a second order change for another). We are talking about a second order change here. Two of the barriers to that kind of change are imposing it from the top and operating from the wrong cultural assumptions. I think in trying to effect a second order change, it is necessary not to confront, but to stand along side and listen so that areas of commonality can be discerned. We need to listen to their concerns, validate them as much as we can, and then find the common value that we can serve with our change. I think your question approaches that if we truly listen to the answer without imposing our own interpretation on what we hear. I think the kind of change we need to see begins with listening.

  2. (Sorry I’m taking up all your comment space here but this won’t be as long-winded!). I just went back and reread your post “Liberals” Keep Pushing the Wrong Way”, and again, I agree with every word. Many liberal pundits, bloggers, and voters do NOT know how the system works. Months later, it has become apparent, at least to me, that even a Congressman who has been in the federal government as Representative and Senator for at least 25 years also does not know how it works. I really had no opinion of Sanders at the beginning, but the more I know about him and listen to him, the more appalled I am. In your article you make the point that by pushing down from the top you are like a person pushing the wrong way on a door; you expend a lot of energy but nothing is accomplished. I understand (sort of) why young people might fall for this, but surely Sanders should know that “thousands of people” turning up under Mitch McConnell’s window is not going to accomplish anything. If he doesn’t, he’s incredibly dense, and if he does, he’s criminally negligent in feeding this garbage to his followers. Taking his tuition free college plan, for instance, he has one third of the cost being borne by the states. Presumably he includes the red states that have refused to expand Medicaid, a program which has far greater immediate consequences than free college tuition. Never mind getting such a plan through Congress (since he believes he doesn’t need to support down ticket Democrats). Carefully thinking through your basic beliefs and staying true to them while you find possible ways to achieve them given the current circumstances is admirable. Sticking with rigid dogma no matter what the possible outcomes is the sign of a petrified mind.

  3. Deb Meeker

    Re-posting on my Facebook page, with thanks.

  4. sjterrid

    Thanks, Norbrook. I’m sharing it on my Facebook page, too.