FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Party of Hard Work

by FIRMIN DeBRABANDER

A truism often repeated by Republicans in the wake of the recent elections is that they must do a better job appealing to Latino voters in coming years. This opinion surfaced before the election, too, but now it is clearer than ever to the party faithful. Conservatives recognize that their hard-line positions against immigration have earned them few friends in the Latino community (and in the Asian-American community, which columnist David Brooks says is a growing voting bloc the GOP must contend with, too). And yet, I have heard conservatives say on several occasions—most recently in a heated discussion between Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter the day after the election—that Latinos should, or will ultimately find the GOP appealing, because at bottom they are a hard-working people.

For his part, Hannity concluded that the election was a defeat for hard working Americans; Obama prevailed because he held a hand out to all those who don’t work hard—or won’t work hard, especially now that they have continued government assistance to rely on. The Obama platform, Hannity claimed, appealed to the inner adolescent in us—the inner slacker who wants everything handed to us on a platter. The GOP, meanwhile, took a harder, more responsible—more adult stance—and paid for their courage.

The Republicans are the Party of Hard Work: this is their self-fancied image. During the campaign, Mitt Romney backtracked considerably on his controversial statement that 47% of the electorate are free-loaders who don’t work hard—who mooch off the rest of us—and comprise a burden of dependence that the rest have to carry around like a mill-stone.

And yet, after the election this much disavowed ‘47% doctrine’ surged forth with a vengeance, revealing that it was no minor complaint or fringe opinion on the right, but rather, a mainstream conservative view all along: the country is divided between those who work hard, and those who don’t—and the GOP is the mature party that appeals to the former. So long as Latinos are a hard working people, they’ll come around to the GOP sooner or later.

This view is horribly misguided—or worse. It’s insulting to suggest that the Democratic wing is comprised of folk who have flocked there because they don’t want to or like to work hard—because they’re lazy, indolent, incompetent slackers. Where do conservatives get this conceit that they are the hard workers among us—indeed, the only ones, on the backs of whom everyone else is getting a free ride? It’s willful ignorance to cling to this pretense; it requires not looking at others, really assessing their lives, and seeing how people work and toil in different ways, under vastly different circumstances, but struggle nonetheless. Are there free-loaders among the Democrats’ ranks? Sure—but a recent study revealed that Republican leaning districts rely more on government support than their Democratic counterparts (“With Tax Comments, Romney wades into a Conservative Rift,” NY Times, 9/19/12). The characterization that Democrats are lazy moochers, and Republicans hard working Americans is too facile.

I might add that there is also a strong whiff of bigotry behind this view of things. Again harping on the lack of Latino support for Romney, a recent NY Post editorial stated that “Most Latinos are fundamentally conservative, in the sense of traditional values; the various Hispanic communities are church- and family-oriented. And Latinos are not afraid of hard work. In short, they would seem to be a natural fit for the GOP.” (NY Post, 11/8/12) The suggestion is clear: Latinos will come around to the GOP because they are a race of inherently industrious people. This of course implies the opposite, namely that there are races who are not naturally inclined to work hard—races that are inherently lazy—a common refrain from more shameful periods of American history. The inherently lazy races naturally vote for the Democrats’ handouts; the GOP does not want those races. In that case, Mitt was right: why even try for their vote? Republicans cannot lament how they lost the African American vote resoundingly, since their polemics elicit a racist code, intentionally or not.

In general though, conservatives do themselves no favors painting electoral divisions in such broad brushstrokes. When the GOP declares itself the party of hard work, and its opponents the opposite, this is to shun an honest and careful—and ultimately, productive—appraisal of the reasons they lost this presidential election. Echoing Sean Hannity, I might say the conservative narrative is equally tempting in its simplicity: it’s a refreshingly self-congratulatory outlook for those on the right. But it’s an overly simplistic view of things, which blatantly disregards complexity—and difference. I daresay this over-simplification likely played a role in driving voters away from the conservative narrative this time around. So long as Republicans cling to it, they will likely fall short in the polls.

Firmin DeBrabander is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail