As the 2022 midterm elections loom large, it appears MAGA devotees have everything bass-ackwards.
Do true believers in the overwhelmingly white, Christian, over-65-retiree MAGA base actually believe that Republican leaders, if elected, will give them what they truly want?
More likely, the opposite will occur, eventually, because the authoritarian despots-at-heart that MAGA-sters hope to elect have demonstrated for years that they care more about amassing power and prestige than buttressing their underprivileged, under-resourced, over-paranoid constituents’ quality of life.
Who brought us the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), for example, giving millions of financially insecure Americans access to decent, affordable health-care insurance for the first time. Hint: It wasn’t the GOP, which has aggressively and unswervingly tried to weaken the federal legislation or gut it.
Democrats, not Republicans, historically support the downtrodden
In fact, bucking up the underclass is what Democrats do, not Republicans. They historically have championed the downtrodden in America, and it’s a mystery to me how the up-and-coming Trumpist GOP has become a political sanctuary for the down-and-out.
Don’t underprivileged Trumpers realize that the former president and all the other extremely rich Republican captains and princes ramrodding the GOP care about getting richer and more powerful, not providing social services to those who desperately need them. Half of MAGA adherents are below middle class and only a third hold college degrees.
Don’t believe me? Consider how many social-service bills GOP legislators have introduced in the past year, much less passed. Hint: It’s less than one. Instead, Congressional Republicans have steadfastly voted against a slew of bills Democrats have submitted to improve the lives of the nation’s most disadvantaged citizens.
The GOP wants the vote of so-called deplorables—Hillary Clinton’s disparaging term for Trump followers during the 2016 campaign—but not their grievances, which would require practically dealing with the plethora of intractable issues born of poverty and racism. This would require bucking up Social Security, encoding federally financed health care for all, improving housing and education equality, and, yes, mandating a livable minimum wage, among a constellation of other policy needs.
Trickle-down economics makes the rich wealthier
All that’s unlikely, because the Republican Party still believes in long-debunked “trickle-down” economic theory where privileging the rich to get richer ostensibly produces greater wealth inevitably flowing—“trickling down”—to poorer and poorest Americans.
Hasn’t happened yet. Note that Ronald Reagan, the grand master of trickle-down, “supply side” economics, presided over a tripling of the US federal deficit after slashing—and then having to raise taxes—as the country slid into recession.
Why hasn’t trickle-down worked as hoped? Because social services cannot be served while cutting taxes, even when it benefits the wealthy (who are expected to invest in jobs and national prosperity but don’t).
The proof is in the pudding. As Reuters reported in 2021:
A 2020 study by the London School of Economics of 50 years of data from 18 countries showed that the only significant effect of significant tax cuts to the rich [the hallmark strategy of trick-down theory] was to increase income inequality with little benefit to unemployment or economic growth.
On top of that, wealthy Americans, who are generally Republicans, have exhibited broad contempt for the very folks their GOP political allies dishonestly stroke for votes—folks the “haves” believe should be likewise thriving if they weren’t so intellectually dull and lazy.
The MAGA movement and ‘Protestant work ethic’
In truth, conservative Americans who are not among the long-suffering denizens of the underclasses generally disdain their cultural inferiors, whom they view as having failed to thrive because of “bad personal decisions.” It’s a legacy of the “Protestant work ethic,” which holds that the insults of poverty and disenfranchisement are not due to systemic cultural injustice but rather to the inevitable wages of insufficient personal character, lack of inner drive to succeed, and, of course, a deficit of Christian piety.
Who among Trump-adorers actually believe they will get what they really want—“It’s the economy, stupid,” as Bill Clinton’s political guru James Carville presciently said in 1992—when the GOP’s top movers, shakers, and, critically, fund-raisers are mostly very rich, white guys, many of whom think, for instance, that a minimum wage is un-American, if not also un-Christian?
Oh, and they also think America is Christian. Or should be.
Trump has long ridiculed underclasses—everywhere
GOP “Dear Leader” Donald Trump himself has a long history of blocking minorities from renting apartments he owned, of stiffing contractors by not paying (or severely underpaying) invoices, scamming the disadvantaged and hopeful, and of generally sniffing with an air of haughty hostility at the underprivileged and underachieving members of society.
He still insists the long-ago-exonerated “Central Park Five” are guilty of beating and raping a woman in New York in 1989. Not coincidentally to him, they were all young Black and Latino men, not white. In a news story this week, a former mixed-race, super-model flame of Trump’s, Kara Young, admitted that what New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman wrote in her new book was true. Haberman wrote that Trump once said Young got her beauty from her mother and her intelligence “from her dad, the white side.”
In the same vein, Trump once infamously castigated non-European immigrants to the US as coming from “shit-hole countries.” It’s easy to imagine him saying the same of emigrants from the non-white American underclass striving to grasp a rung in the lower middle class (over, heaven forbid, higher)—“They come from shithole counties.”
“I love the poorly educated,” he also once said with a smirk at a rally trolling for votes.
No, this guy, and the party he conquered in a hostile takeover and still holds hostage, have zero time for the real needs of their ardent voters. These suipplicants are just viewed as useful idiots for perpetuating GOP power, and Republican leadership has no real plan for changing their lives for the better (see the legislation for the poor they haven’t been passing, or even proposing, in Congress).
Why do MAGA adherents believe Trumpism will improve their lives?
How could MAGA sycophants feel a warm surge of reassurance from such two-faced, pandering dishonesty? Yet, they voted for “The Donald” and his anointed political lieutenants across the nation in droves in 2020 (although that vote apparently wasn’t “rigged”), though thankfully in smaller droves than the blue wave that ultimately elected Joe Biden to the presidency.
So, as we head into these edgy midterms (November 8), a strange reality exists, that even if ostensibly Trump-adoring Republican candidates win, the MAGA base will most certainly lose, even though, at first, they’ll think they’ve won.
The poor will largely remain as poor, disenfranchised and disadvantaged as they were before the vote, even if a “red wave” materializes. Immigrants will still surge, short of gross mistreatment, at our southern border. LGBTQ citizens will still exist as their true selves, though much more discriminated against. And America is growing less Christian, even less religious, by the day.
Our society is evolving, whether conservatives try to halt social progress or not.
What has MAGA leadership done for its base?
In the meantime, what exactly has the GOP done or plan to do to ease the plight of its base, which includes hordes of America’s most unsuccessful and, thus, aggrieved citizens?
“Nothing yet,” is the correct answer.
Even if more border walls were built and immigrants were stopped cold at the border and refused entry, if a flurry of laws were passed rendering LGBTQ Americans the equivalent of lawless perverts, and if legislation were passed formally declaring the US a Christian nation in thrall to the Bible, not the Constitution, how would that ease abject poverty, put food on tables where it is now scarce, and relieve the catastrophe one major medical event can inflict on an individual or family in the lower rungs of society?
Choking off immigration would choke the economy by blocking an important pipeline for workers critically needed in the US economy, which in turn would choke off job creation, which would make it even harder for poorer existing Americans to find work, much less work that pays a livable wage.
And how will ramped-up LGBTQ discrimination be good for the underclasses, who have roughly the same LGBTQ proportions as every other class. It will just further reduce the quality of life for persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ citizens everywhere in the country.
In addition, people’s insecurity will not be alleviated regarding Social Security and health care if the GOP, as it hopes to, begins reducing the scope of federal programs and resources for both.
What do Trumpers really want?
What poor and underprivileged people really want are decent jobs they can live on, Social Security to ease the financial burdens of old age, and good health care they can afford (which for the poor means a national, single-payer system because private insurance is unaffordable for them).
The GOP has produced zero plans for any of these practical ways to improve the lives of America’s least prosperous citizens except to encourage them to figure out on their own—meaning without significant federal or state assistance—how to be prosperous.
No. Republican lawmakers have only criticized every plan Democrats have put forward to actually mitigate the soul-crushing realities of poverty, food insecurity and despair in America.
Democrats are trying figuratively in the short term to feed the disadvantaged with fish now so they can develop the necessary capacity and energy to learn how to independently fish for themselves and their families in the future. Republicans on the other hand, in effect, want to starve the poor, forcing them to divine how to fish without necessary knowledge, a net or hook or spear.
At some point, Trump’s adoring throngs will discover he—and his political sycophants—are not bringing them a better life. They will then look for other saviors, because conservatives crave authoritarians.
At some point they just might end up being Democrats, I would hope, when they figure out that Democrats are the ones that have been trying to help them all along.
So, my question is: What exactly do MAGA Republicans think they’re voting for?
More deprivation and contempt?