Red States: Are You Learning? Will You?

We are now in a record government shutdown, and it looks like it will continue for a while.  The reason?  A “wall” which objectively is unnecessary, a President who boxed himself in, and a Senate Majority Leader too spineless to put budget bills to a vote, because he doesn’t want to override a veto.  The news is full of the problems federal workers face either being out of work with no pay, or worse, having to work without pay.   The national media focuses on the easily available stories in Washington and other large cities, but it’s national in scope. But that’s not the only bad news.

National parks are closed, and as a result, the businesses around them are suffering.  Airports are having longer lines for check ins, because TSA agents are not showing up for work.  Federal contractors are getting ready to lay people off, because they’re not getting paid.  Research projects are shutting down.  Small business loans aren’t available, and new businesses can’t get the tax identification numbers they need to open.  Brewers are not able to roll out new varieties, since they need the federal government’s approval for new labels.  A fishing fleet sits idle in Alaska, since they have no idea of what catch quotas they’ll get – or even be allowed to go to sea for.  Farmers, already hit by the trade war, are now unable to get the federal payments promised to offset that, and federal loans aren’t there,  with many looking at losing their farms in the near future.  Rural affordable housing programs are shutting down, as are programs that help pay for senior citizens housing, and SNAP benefits.   Waiting for a tax refund?  Good luck.  That’s a short list of the problems, and there are far more.

It turns out that a lot of things are badly affected, and they’re impacting the “reliably Republican” areas the most.   Some of the complaints from them have been along the lines of “they’re not hurting the people they’re supposed to!”  That’s a real quote, by the way.  Aside from the privileged (and rather vicious) attitude that shows, it tells me they can’t grasp that they’re the ones who rely heavily on government spending.   I’ve said before that I’m not terribly sympathetic to them, because this is what they voted for.  This is not the first time this has happened.  As I said in a post 6 years ago during a shutdown,

… “big government,” which they’ll tell you they don’t want, is actually wanted.  That’s because suddenly it’s their financial well-being at stake, a source of funding that is directed at them.  Which they’ll all tell you is very, very necessary, but of course, doesn’t mean that the “free market” shouldn’t apply.  To other people.

It’s because they have a disability.  They literally can’t see what they get as government spending.

It’s a constant, that conservatives never seem to be able to see the things that they use, benefit from, or need are the result of “socialism” and paid for by taxes.  In other words, provided by the government.  Even when they are harmed by the government doing what they asked, in cutting taxes and associated government programs, they still can’t quite see that the two are linked.

This shutdown has set records for length.  But what has been astonishing about it is that after experiencing sequester cuts and several shutdowns over the past decade, those same people said they supported the President in starting it.   I’ve come to the conclusion that they enjoy getting hurt.

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.

Maybe this shutdown will be the one to drive the lesson home.   Will they learn?  I don’t know.  I hope they will, but if they won’t, they shouldn’t expect much in the way of sympathy if they insist on hurting themselves… again.




Filed under Politics

4 responses to “Red States: Are You Learning? Will You?

  1. Mary Lynne Foster

    Maybe the idea that the people who are supposed to get hurt are hurting, they don’t care? As long as black people, brown people, immigrants are hurting they’re willing to suffer? If they admit now that they need the same government support as the people they’ve been told are losers and slackers it will mean that they are losers and slackers too? People who receive certain kinds of government support have been painted as picking the pockets of upstanding (white?) taxpayers for a long time. We’ve all heard the ‘us vs’ them’ message ad infinitum. Realizing that they benefit just as much puts them in the same class, takes away their special status. Instead of understanding that we are all in this together (frightening), their vote assures them that they still have their status. Just my non-professional thoughts. Racism comes in many forms.

    • Yes, they are afraid of losing their perceived status. One of the articles of faith in rural areas is that their tax money is supporting “those big cities.” That the actual tax flow is the opposite is something they either don’t realize or don’t want to admit. Add in a healthy dose of racism, combined with the mistaken assumption that it’s only the urban blacks/browns who are receiving all that welfare. That more white people receive various “welfare” benefits in both raw numbers and percentage of the population, and most likely a number of their friends and relatives is another thing they don’t want to admit.
      Even aside from that, they’re depending on numerous government programs designed to help them, government facilities in their area are critical to their economy, and quite a number of their jobs depend on those, if they’re not actively working for a government.
      That they haven’t grasped that no matter how many times they get smacked with reality? They’re not learning.

      • Eugenio Cifelli

        In many poor white-majority counties, it’s the affluent and middle-class white conservatives that largely turn out to vote, while many poor whites largely don’t bother to vote. Many middle class whites in rural areas are resentful towards low-income whites on public assistance programs. They feel that many poor able-bodied unemployed people on SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and other anti-poverty programs are lazy parasites, who don’t want to work and wish to depend on their tax dollars for survival. It doesn’t help that many of these poor whites are disengaged from politics. They simply don’t vote. This helps the Republican candidates gain more electoral clout. Alec MacGillis wrote an article titled “Who Turned My Blue State Red”. The author traveled to a majority-white rural county in Kentucky that used to be a Democratic stronghold, but now trends Republican. He discovered that many white middle class voters were very resentful toward their poor white neighbors, and family members because of them being on disability, Medicaid, and SNAP.

        • Quite true. I live in such an area, although it’s always been a reliably Republican area. To be honest, there is always a percentage in any population who “game the system.” But in general, the problem is that most of these areas have some blind spots. In my area, everyone gripes about the property and state taxes. But a solid percentage of the biggest gripers … work for a government, and that’s often the case in rural areas. I’ve also pointed out to some people that the idea of “they should get a job” assumes that there are plentiful jobs available, and that said jobs pay enough to live on. Which, in those areas like you mention, is not the case.