LET’S KICK THE DOOR clean off the hinges: Only 7% of Americans are “very satisfied” with the current wealth distribution. This matter is related to job creation, laws on corporations and Wall Street, welfare and minimum wage. This alarming statistic implies we have overwhelming public support for taking meaningful action against inequality. So what’s exactly stopping us? We invent excuses.
Primarily, it has been a Republican point to demonize the poor: The 47 percent comment from a Presidential candidate who ironically lost with the same percentage of votes; the “they all want free stuff” arguments; and the “welfare queen” talking point that’s loaded with dog whistle political racism. Due to their robust ideology of anathematizing the American poor, and to a lesser extent the middle class, the Republican party neither wants to raise minimum wage nor relent on their assault on federal assistance programs. They write off the poor as lazy people who are nothing but “takers”, and it shows in republican action such as their voting patterns, bill construction, and their rhetoric. The flaw in their logic (or lack of) is that being middle-class or poor isn’t indicative of the exaggeratedly simple-minded conclusion that someone’s lazy, and you cannot ask someone to perform work without paying them properly.
“Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour… Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.” ~ President Obama, 2013
Of course perhaps for the sake of picking up slack where the opposing party falls short, Democrats tend to make the most direct attempt to aid and assist the poor in this class warfare. Unfortunately no action from a gerrymandered GOP-majority Congress means no more money in the pockets of the nation’s lowest-paid workers, stating “raising the minimum wage would eliminate jobs”, as well as saying, “minimum wage is not meant to support life.”
In recent events, Republicans are seeking to change their position of obstructing upward mobility. Why? According to a report from the Census Bureau, one in three Americans can be expected to fall below the poverty line for at least six months, and more than 50% of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 have experienced at least a year of poverty (I know I have). What’s different now is the fact that two-thirds of those who fall below the poverty line now self-identify as white. Well there’s a fact that may just destroy the current residual image of what the welfare queen looks like. I can certainly expound on the history and science of the cognitive racial bias and how the powers to be changed the face of the American poor from poor rural whites to poor urban blacks during the 70’s. But I prefer to place a link somewhere on it.
Overall I believe it’s great when BOTH political tribes in our nation embraces aiding and assisting the poor. But much like this brilliant scene from the 1996 movie A Time to Kill, it’s just unfortunate that in order to activate the Republican base to properly respond to an injustice one must impose a white face on it first. I assess that if the GOP leaders were to attempt more aggressive measures to aid and assist the poor that they will only get push-back from within their own party who has already bought in — and thoroughly invested into — their previous ideology of anathematizing the American poor.
Only time will tell.