Yesterday, the Republican party proved something: they are a party that is great at opposing Democratic policies, but terrible at actually creating policies of their own. Yes, after eight years of demonizing Obamacare and sending literally dozens of repeal bills to Barack Obama's desk for him to veto, the Republican party couldn't even get their own healthcare bill out of the House of Representatives. The cracks in the party were readily apparent: the moderates didn't want to support a bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would take healthcare away from over twenty million people, and that was opposed by every major health providing organization in the country, and the conservatives didn't feel that the bill went far enough(!).
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said that the healthcare plan he would replace Obamacare with would cover everyone, let you choose your doctor and lower premiums (somehow he forgot to promise free unicorn rides to the doctor's office!). Not surprisingly, just how he planned to pay for such a plan was not mentioned: his healthcare promises were about as vague as his promises to get Mexico to pay for a border wall. It was also not surprising that the healthcare bill that Paul Ryan created in the house fell short of Trump's lofty goals, even as he openly supported it.
While I'm certainly glad that the bill went down to defeat, the contents of the bill say much about the party and the man who leads it. Along with giving an enormous tax cut for the rich (the Republican solution to all of life's problems), the bill would make it harder for the old, the sick and the poor to afford healthcare. A study by the Bloomberg political group found that most of the people who would benefit from the tax cut resided in cities that voted for Clinton, and that many of the people who would lose out the most from the bill resided in counties that went for Trump. This fact was brought up by conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson in an interview with Trump, who agreed that it was true, and then shrugged it off by saying "this is going to be negotiated."
Now let's compare the healthcare bill to the recently released Trump federal budget; while it takes a meat axe to the usual Republican targets like public broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, it also included eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an independent agency set up in 1965 “to address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region.” The same Appalachian region that turned out to vote for him in large numbers. He also wants to get rid of the Economic Development Administration, an organization that in recent years has been trying to help out communities devastated by the closing of coal mines. Again, the same communities that turned out to vote for him. Now to be fair, those two programs are a minuscule part of the budget, and he probably had no idea what they were of why they got cut (I'm going to assume that the actual writing of the budget was accomplished with very little input from him), but when the budget is combined with the healthcare bill, it looks like a double backstab aimed at the very people who voted for him. Oddly, the president's biggest supporters should all be glad that the healthcare bill failed and that his budget will be altered by congress.
So what gives? Why do so many poor and middle class white voters vote for candidates who try to pass legislation that doesn't benefit them, and may actually harm them? Sadly, this tradition has long roots that reach to the days of slavery; back then, most white people who lived in the South did not actually own slaves, and most of them were laborers who were forced to compete with slave labor; they would have actually benefited from slavery being abolished. And yet, when the civil war began, those poor white Southerners were willing to fight and die for the right of the rich to have slaves because they were sold a bill of racial superiority; as free white men, they would always have more rights than slaves. And what Trump said on the campaign trail, demonizing Mexican immigrants and Muslims, falls into that same tradition of racial superiority. In fact, I would argue that this racist theme is what pushed Trump over the top to victory in November.
|Jared Taylor, Trump supporter, white supremacist, asshole|
Consider that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are now 130 Klu Klux Klan groups, 100 White Nationalist groups, and 99 Neo Nazi groups, scattered around the US, mostly in the red states. Now while these groups usually abstain from politics and abhor politicians, the Trump campaign absolutely energized them. Just listen to Jared Taylor, a prominent white supremacist, talking to the New York Times: "I've never met him, and I cannot read his mind any better than you can. But someone who wants to send home all illegal immigrants and at least temporarily ban Muslim immigrants is acting in the interest of whites, whether consciously or not." Trump, naturally, repeatedly denies that he's racist, but that's hard to believe given the level of his campaign rhetoric and his appointment of Steve Bannon, a former editor of a white nationalist website, as a chief White House strategist. It's undeniable that the Trump presidency is popular with most hate groups. This popularity may explain why so many pollsters got the election wrong; polls are done with likely voters, not with white supremacists who rarely show up to vote. Now, am I saying that all sixty three million Trump voters are Klan members? Of course not. But consider that Taylor claims that his white supremacist website American Renaissance gets 300,000 unique views a month, and Stormfront, a similar site, claims to get the same number. In an election as close as the last one, people in those kind of numbers, especially ones that don't normally show up to vote , may very well have lifted Trump to a win. Much to our nation's disgrace.