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Creating a New Underclass by Reinventing the Wheel

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Okay, so let’s get this straight.

We’ve just elected a new Republican majority to Congress, based upon — at least if I’ve got the ads they ran so relentlessly during the campaign right — a promise to rein in big government spending and bring actual jobs back to the common Joes like you and me.

Yeah, right.

These working Joes (plumbers and otherwise) are the very same folks who’ve spent the last few years fighting for the few remaining available scraps left — since President George W. Bush took the budget surplus handed to him by President Bill Clinton, and squandered it on eight years of fighting a war fueled by post 9/11 emotions and based on false intelligence, all the while giving tax breaks to those who needed it the least.

I mean, is it just me? Or is something completely back-asswards here?

Listen folks, this is about economics, plain and simple. Whatever they may tell you, this is all about the centuries old battle between the rich and the poor.

But the thing is, that in order to push forward their agenda of padding the wallets of the “haves” and the “have mores,” the Republican Party has always had to rely upon the populist support of these same underclasses who have stood to benefit the least by it. From time immemorial, this is how it has worked.

In the past however, the Republicans have succeeded at winning the battle by using tactics appealing to the most deeply held beliefs of honest, hard-working people — those who are the most religious and otherwise.

However, in the aftermath of eight years of corporate welfare which has seen nothing in the way of new job creation — and in fact, has completely gutted many positions once held by working class Americans “outsourced” to foreign countries — such empty, diversionary arguments as abortion rights, gay marriage and “family values” no longer hold any water.

And the thing is, “they” know it.

So what are the Republicans to do to regain support amongst the “rabble?” Simple. They have taken on a new tactic, that is really not so new at all. Refocus the message, emphasize fear, and add a little revolutionary “sexiness” to it. It’s a simple message that has worked for centuries, and guess what? That’s exactly what they have done.

This is precisely how the Republican Party recaptured a congressional majority roughly a month ago, by romanticizing the whole “Tea Party” feel of a largely imaginary populist uprising. It was this sexy, but ultimately dangerous notion of false empowerment that swept so many of them back into Congress. Tea Party? The only revolution occurring here is the one threatening the status quo, and keeping the great unhuddled masses largely trampled underfoot.

Never mind the fact that some of the most extreme of the right wing nutcases — your Christine O’Donnells riding in on a witchbroom and such — didn’t make it. The message still remains the same. People want change, and they are willing, and even desperate to go where ever they can to get it.

The thing is, this is nothing new — but the post-sixties Republicans have always been far better at fostering a sense of false revolution than the Democrats. Even during times when economic conditions favor an atmosphere (you would think at least) that would be more favorable to those struggling to put food on the table or gas in the tank.

The Republican Party have become experts at wrapping the same old message of populist discontent, up in a new “revolutionary” sort of package of some sort of faux uprising.

They may hate the sixties hippies who were the original agents of such change. But trust you and me, they have learned much from their once historical enemies. The fact remains, these politicians aren’t hippies at all, and they wont be offering one iota of spare change once they have left the bar at the Waldorf Astoria. There is nothing “revolutionary” at all about continuing to conduct business as usual, when the sole purpose is to obstruct meaningful change.

Call it what you want. Back in the nineties, it was Newt Gingrich’s post-Clinton “Contract With America.” But the message is always the same sort of “honest! We’ve really changed and are really on your side” sort of bullcrap that influences minds and, unfortunately, often wins elections.

Think I’m kidding? Let’s look at what’s happened since the Republicans took Congress on what mainly amounted to a platform of restoring hope to jobless Americans and barreling down on names like Pelosi, Reid and Obama as agents of the devil, who need to be tossed into some pit of endlessly flaming, eternal hell.

Seriously, let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Their first act appears to be cutting unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs two years ago in the wake of Bush’s gutting of the American economy, while padding the already fat pockets of corporate millionaires with said tax cuts.

Were new jobs created by this? No. Were millions of decent, hard working Americans subsequently forced into unemployment and poverty as a result? Debatable, but mostly yes.

Recently, the argument that unemployment insurance somehow discourages displaced workers to look for a job has been floated out there. Terms like “hobos” and “bums” have even made their way into the argument. This is patently ridiculous. Searching for a job requires having at least some money to do so. You need gas to get to an interview, and you need a computer with high-speed internet access to troll the job boards and otherwise do the necessary networking. Having an actual permanent address also helps, which requires paying rent or making due on the mortgage.

So when it comes to cutting spending and reducing the Bush generated deficit? The most ugly descriptions of people who lost their jobs during the recession I’ve heard recently are that these are the sort of people who are blowing their average $300. a week checks on things like booze or drugs. To hear the Republican version of recent history, it makes more sense to further balloon the deficit by continuing to provide a tax shelter for millionaires, than to stimulate a crippled economy by offering assistance to the people who, you know, actually need it. Time has proven these are the very same people who can and will help jump start the economy by spending the money on necessities like food.

But hey, you Republicans are all about helping these folks, right? Viva La Revolution! Don’t these same people who spent their entire working lives paying into an “insurance policy,” have a reasonable expectation of return on the same when times get tough?

News Flash: It’s already been paid for.

The second biggest thing these new Republican congressmen seem to be hellbent on is preserving the Bush era tax cuts for the rich. Never mind that there is not one shred of evidence that doing so has ever produced jobs (and in fact, that there is considerable recent evidence to the contrary), or that these same politicians ran on a promise of reducing the deficit.

News Flash: Let The Bush Tax Cuts Expire, And You Help Reduce The Deficit.

Not that Obama’s strategy of opening up a can of toothless, bi-partisan appeasement has done anyone any favors. Until President Obama rises to the challenge of the hope and change he so effectively communicated during the 2008 campaign, the Republican march to a new underclass will continue unabated.

And Barack Obama, the guy we put so much hope and trust to change things in, is your one-term, placeholder president.

It’s a weird thing about these Republicans — but they really seem to enjoy it when most of us are poor. Maybe it’s about time we reinvented the wheel ourselves.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • The politics of greed – you’re poor now but if you vote for us, you might have a chance to be as rich as we are. If you vote for them, you’ll never be as rich – in fact, you might even have to share.

  • Doug Hunter

    Do you guys ever tire of spreading your master’s class hate and warfare message? It’shown time and time again not to work here (plus it’s tedious as hell as none of you have had an original idea since Marx). You should stick to race baiting, that’s the proven recipe for the US.

  • Good article Glen. I’ve been wanting to write something similar, and I still may, but you stated much of what I’ve been thinking.

    Pols in general and the Reps in particular count on the electorate having a very short and inaccurate memory.


  • The argument is still working, Glen. See for example “The Democrats and Social Classes,” the third article as per link. Also see the following.

    I’m citing from the first-mentioned article:

    The most significant shift against the Democrats [in 2010] occurred among the white working class. Congressional Democrats lost this group by 10 points in both 2006 and 2008. Yet that deficit ballooned to 29 points in 2010.

    That’s a huge move toward Republicans who were against saving the American auto industry and who voted against infrastructure investments and jobs, (very) partial bailouts of state governments, extensions of unemployment insurance, and health care reform and tax policies that benefit working-class whites more than any other race-class grouping (in absolute numbers though not proportionately). And this massive swing occurred nowhere more strongly than in the Great Lakes states, including strong union states Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

    Which only goes to show that Doug’s fears of re-igniting class envy and class struggle in the good ole USA are grossly unfounded.

  • It hardly matters what “works” here. The reason this message gets repeated is that it happens to be true.

    So called “trickle down” didn’t work for Reagan. The Bush tax cuts didn’t work. Now the Reps are going back to the same well and drawing out the fetid waters of their decrepit mythology that tax cuts for the wealthy will bring jobs. The notion that some mil/bil getting say a hundred thousand dollar tax cut is going to cause him or her to hire people to make more widgets is ludicrous. All it means is that the mil/bil gets to sock away an additional hundred grand, or maybe make a payment or two on that Colorado ski retreat, or send dear sweet Muffy on her prep school class trip to Kilimanjaro.

    The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office published a list of the least to the most effective way to stimulate the economy with tax cuts being the least and providing unemployment insurance as the most effective.

    Some Bushies point proudly to the fact that the country added a total of 1.1 million jobs during his 8 year tenure. Whoopie! Turn the page back, though, and one notes that during the Clinton years, more than 20 million jobs were added. Hmmm. 20 to 1.

    There are obviously racial connotations that can be made regarding the treatment of Obama and his administration, but that’s not the issue here. The brutal fact is that the Reagan/Bush/McConnell-Boehner tactics of pushing tax cuts for the rich have helped ONLY the rich.

    Since the Reagan years the median income for over 97% of working people in the US has barely budged. The rise for most has been little more than 2% or 3%, while the median income for the top 2% to 3% has risen over a thousand percent. God love ’em, the rich have certainly gotten richer. The poor have, well, just remained poor. But, I guess that’s the American way.


  • The poor want to be rich, Baritone, that’s why they support the Republican policies except in the extreme. Can’t you see the paradox. So yes, the argument thus far is working. And it does matter.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Nice article, Glen. Refreshing to see these thoughts in plain language without pretence for a change.

  • A serious question, Glen. We’re so ready to blame the Reps for representing the interests of the ruling class, but why? They’re only doing what is expected. Shouldn’t we be equally blaming the underclass for voting against their self-interest?

    Somehow, you fail to address this question, and therein, I contend, lies the rub.

  • Roger, it’s largely a question of the “underlcass” being easy targets for fear mongering with “kill grandma” type lies, and race baiting through the old Rep Southern Strategy of making veiled, or even obvious racial and/or ethnic slurs, which appeal to white voters, who can muster enough numbers to overcome the minority votes that will go against them. As with the success Reps had in both 2000 and 2004 luring in the religious fundys with “family values” issues it was and is all smoke and mirrors. The Reps really have nothing to offer the great unwashed, but they have become masters of deceit selling them all a bill of goods using catch words and phrases – socialism, communism, fascism, family values, atheism, tax & spend, and on and on. They have no shame.

    My big problem with both the Dems and Obama is that they have shown no will to fight. They have NO backbone with the exception of a numbered few in the House like Anthony Weiner, Bernie Sanders and maybe James Clyburn. Many of the so called Blue Dogs in both chambers have proven more often than not to be DINOs with no wil nor any inclination to support even middle of the road legislation.

    Obama is still in his “getting bipartisan support” mode when it became obvious from about an hour after he took the oath of office that there would be none. Obama has proven to be a disappointment to progressives. In that regard, I am forced to eat a good deal of crow. Now, I actually believe that Hillary would have been far more effective in the White House. She likely could have mustered a good deal more support both within the Dems and even from the Reps because she knows how the game is played and where the bodies are buried. In this respect experience (rather than size) mattered.

    All in all, this is a time when progressives should either stand up and fight or just give it up.


  • Doug Hunter

    “it’s largely a question of the “underlcass” being easy targets for fear mongering with ‘kill grandma’ type lies, and race baiting through the old Rep Southern Strategy of making veiled, or even obvious racial and/or ethnic slurs, which appeal to white voters, who can muster enough numbers to overcome the minority votes that will go against them.”

    I just vomited in my mouth a bit. I hope you’re playing Goebbels here and aren’t really stupid enough to believe this bull. Fearmongering? The government is a security blanket you dolt. In order to sell the security you must make people afraid, this is your bread and butter. Can’t succeed without government help, can’t retire without government help, can’t get healthcare without government help, the world will come to an end if you don’t get two years welfare when you lose a job. Your whole ideology exists for the sole purpose of scaring people into indentured servitude to the ‘common good’ (brought to you by the Clintons.. the Kennedys… and George Soros). As for race, of course it’s not you and your ilk interested in using it, it’s not about getting 90+% of the black vote, it’s not about paiting whites as evil oppressors, it’s just your dispassionate observation that you strangely feel the need to repeat over and over and over ad nauseum.

    *** See, stick to the script, I told you the race thing plays alot better here and I knew you’d come around.

  • Doug has all the tags down pat. He is dutifully walking the party line. It is likely that he has binged on the Kool-Aide provided by his fascist overlords. (I love it.:D) This is the same tired disingenuous crap rightys have been spewing for decades. I must give him and them kudos, though, in that it works so well amongst the illiterati. Hook, line and stinker.


  • El Bicho

    “In order to sell the security you must make people afraid, this is your bread and butter.”

    To state only one party uses the fear angle reveals who the true dolt is. Palin had her Death Panels and in 2004 Bush had an ad that hinted a Kerry win would lead to another terrorist attack.

  • Ian

    Bravo, Doug! You have produced the vast majority of the sense spoken here. You are also by far the most articulate… correlation or causation?

  • It’s in the eye of the beholder, Ian. I’m glad, though, that Doug’s diatribes evoke a sentimental feeling. We all need a connection.

  • Baronius

    I don’t get it. You guys are praising a thoroughly juvenile article which doesn’t even bother to present an argument for the first two pages, then presents a poor one on page 3. I know you may agree with the author’s politics, but it discredits your side when you endorse such a shoddy statement of those principles.

  • I don’t agree Bar. Glen did a good job of setting the stage and then making his argument.


  • Baronius

    Which part set the stage so well? Was it the decades-old caricatures? Was it the mysterious labeling of the “Contract With America” as post-Clinton? Or was it the subtle wit of “How about Tea Party my ass”?

    Which part of the analysis won you over? Was it the idea that temporary unemployment extensions are inherently more permanent than temporary tax cuts? Was it the accusation that the Republicans pulled a bait-and-switch by doing exactly what they said they would? Or was it…wait, there was nothing else to the analysis. There was nothing at all to the analysis.

  • It was the fact that all of it was, well, facts.

    I know that you, Bar, have an endless supply of wit and a veritable bank vault of rhetorical skills that raises you far above all of us mindless, inarticulate moonbats, but it is obviously the content and not the style that offended you so.


  • Reading this article back today, I actually can see some of Baronius’ points that I wasn’t clear enough in stating my case. I’ve just made some updates to this article, with the idea of hopefully making for a more effective argument. Thanks for the comments everyone.


  • I know you’re well-intentioned, Glen, but you’re woefully ignorant of the real dynamics within the GOP. You repeat the old canards about the GOP catering to the interests of the ultra rich and corporations, while ignoring the real facts.

    The Bush tax cuts cut more for the poor and working poor than for any other group, incluiding the ultra rich. The Democrats, not the Republicans have been the main recipients of corporate largess, the main partners of rapacious banks in the legislative process, and the ones who promote policies which keep the poor poor and the rich rich.

    And this one’s a real whopper:

    “They may hate the sixties hippies who were the original agents of such change. But trust you and me, they have learned much from their once historical enemies. The fact remains, these politicians aren’t hippies at all”

    Really? I know a great many Republican activists who are exactly that. By the end of the 80s it became very clear to most of us who had started out as activists on the political left that the Democratic party was selling out the ideals of the 60s and that the Republican party was actually more likely to be on our side in the fight against oppressive government. Sure, the GOP has generally not lived up to expectations, but the Democrats have become such trenchant statists that they are utterly uredeemable. I lived in the Soviet Union and I don’t want to see that kind of government here, and I can see the essence of it in the Democratic party.


  • Well, Dave settled that! Sorry all of us lefties got it so wrong. Dave, of course, is the unassailable authority on all things politic.


    Dave is the one who is wrong – about everything. As with John McCain and all things military, we’re all supposed to assume that Dave has the handle on politics because he’s lived – apparently everywhere it would seem – and worked in D.C. for a time.

    Is it even remotely possible that those who are currently living and working in and with the national political scene have a more accurate and in-depth understanding of that world than does good old Dave?

    Dave loves to turn everyone’s beliefs inside out and buy into his convoluted version of the world. Despite his repeated insistence otherwise, it is NOT an “old canard” regarding whose noses are up whose asses the furthest.

    The Bush tax cuts favored the rich by a huge margin. Oh, and yes, Dave also now co-opts the hippy movement making it into a Republican thing – kinda like that “old canard” that Russians claim to have invented everything. If you were to listen to Dave, Republicans are responsible for everything – important or not – as long as it sounds good when he’s holding court.


  • Indeed, to claim that GOP serves the interests of the common man is preposterous enough. But now we have to stack it up with another claim of the ex-hippies having been co-opted by the GOP wing. I can think of no one but Dave Horowitz who would fit Dave’s description. If the ex-hippies have become co-opted, I’d rather argue they’ve been co-opted by the two-party system and our dysfunctional political process, and that is bad enough and a move towards conservatism. Which is far cry from saying they’ve turned Republican.

  • zingzing

    dave’s off on one of his flights of fancy again. always entertaining. how he convinces himself of this shit is trippy.

  • Baronius

    It’s embarrassing the latitude that lefties grant Glen because they agree with him. It’s equally embarrassing when they criticize Dave for saying something that I’ve personally witnessed to be true, solely because it doesn’t fit their beliefs.

    I’ve known former flower children who still march in protests, these days around abortion clinics. I’ve known conservationists who grew disgusted at the federal government’s land management. I’ve known some wild partiers who are now libertarians. I can think of one former hippie I know who’s still a Democrat, and that’s mostly because he’s rich and feels guilty about it.

  • Baronius

    Roger – You should read some P.J. O’Rourke.

  • zingzing

    ah, baronius… if only your personal experience were the entirety of human experience! i don’t think that really qualifies as proof. if my personal experience was the only quantifier of truth, there’d be far fewer republicans around here. yet somehow that isn’t true. why is that?

  • Baronius

    Dave says a thing is true. You say it isn’t. I say that I’ve observed the thing. You say that isn’t proof.

  • zingzing

    i’ve observed the opposite. i’m not saying that what i’ve observed is the be-all end-all truth of the matter. it doesn’t prove that the opposite doesn’t occur. it’s not proof of anything other than a personal anecdote.

    do you really think that your personal experience, which you must admit is a limited thing, proves that that experience must be consistent and true for everyone?

  • Clavos

    Roger – You should read some P.J. O’Rourke.

    There’s one of the few sensible voices in this miasma…

  • Will do.

  • So, does this mean Boehner was once an orange skinned hippie?

  • One can find examples of almost anything if one looks long and hard enough amongst 360 million people. Dave and Baronius’ assertions don’t alter reality.

    Democrats outnumber Republicans pretty much across the country. We are talking about tens of millions of people. Are we to suppose by D&Bs claims that we are all either stupid or are burdened with some kind of a guilt complex? Screw that! Bar has baldly claimed that, in his opinion Republicans are better people than Dems. Talk about stupidity. The arrogance and sanctimony, not to mention the jaw dropping neanderthalic stupidity they bring to this discussion makes me want to puke. Dave, in particular, has proven to be a true Roveian pol: Lie about everything and make totally reverse and obnoxious claims and accusations with such aplomb that the average dolt will assume their veracity. Political expediency is the be all and end all. Don’t concern oneself with anything so archaic as “truth.” Just go for the jugular regardless.

    While the right wing TV and radio slobs claim that Obama and the left in general are destroying the country, the truth is, it is they who are destroying the very fabric upon which this country was based. Dave and Bar fall in line with that, in true fascist lock step.


  • Baronius

    Yeah, but you didn’t say that Dave’s observations are too limited to be generalized. You and Baritone called them “rubbish”, “flights of fancy”, “shit”, and “convoluted”. You denied the validity of his observations.

    Meanwhile, let’s look at Glen’s evidence. “Terms like ‘hobos’ and ‘bums’ have even made their way into the argument.” Really? That doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard. Have you heard those terms used to describe those currently unemployed? Glen doesn’t say if he heard them personally, or read them on a message board, or has seen footage of those terms used by politicians or activists. If you’ve never heard people who can’t find a job in the current climate called “bums”, then go ahead and call Glen’s article bullshit, unless you’re more interested in defending your team than you are in telling the truth.

  • Baronius

    Comment #33 was to comment #28.

  • Clavos

    While the right wing TV and radio slobs claim that Obama and the left in general are destroying the country, the truth is, it is they who are destroying the very fabric upon which this country was based…

    Too late. That happened about a hundred years ago, and both left and right have had a hand in it. All that’s left is to see who wins the current civil war and what they put in its place

  • Actually Clav, you’re probably right about that. 🙂


  • zingzing

    baronius: “You denied the validity of his observations.”

    he stated them as if they were true across the board, rather than a personal anecdote, which is all they are. if he really believes what he says, he’s a fool. but i doubt he even believes it.

  • Baronius

    Wrong. Dave does both. He states, “I know a great many Republican activists…”, relating to his personal experience, but also generalizes it to “by the end of the 80s it became very clear to most of us…”. If your objection was to generalization, you’d have ripped apart this article or Baritone’s comments. Your real objection is to the ideas that Dave states.