The right-wing con

Loved this from Drum today:

What I mean is that since at least the late 70s, the cold, hard nugget at the heart of the conservative movement’s electoral strategy is an attempt to win working-class votes for a party that’s dedicated to the interests of corporations and the wealthy. [emphases mine]

Let me be clear: I don’t mean that conservatives expend a lot of energy appealing to conservative social values. There’s nothing dishonest about that. Plenty of people are willing to vote their social consciences over their pocketbook interests, and every big political party has to find a way to win votes from people who agree with them only partly. It would be political malpractice not to appeal to different audiences with whatever arguments are most likely to win them over.

No, the problem is that this isn’t enough. Emphasizing social issues to the working class and economic issues to the rich just won’t get the job done. Conservatives know that they also have to directly appeal to working-class pocketbook issues, and that’s a circle that can never be squared honestly. It just can’t. The modern conservative movement is fundamentally dedicated to the economic interests of the upper classes.

This means that the success of the entire movement is intimately tied to a huge, relentlessly repeated lie. Tax cuts boost the economy and are good for the working class. Light regulation of Wall Street frees up money and is good for the working class. Right-to-work laws provide job opportunities for the working class. Social Security is a scam that won’t be around by the time the working class retires. “Dangerous” chemicals are just a left-wing myth designed to strangle the economy and hurt the working class. Allowing more oil drilling and more coal mining provides lots of jobs for the working class. Etc. Every policy designed to benefit the rich has to be deliberately twisted into a fraud for public consumption.

This is inexorably corrosive. It’s impossible to base an entire movement on a working-class scam and not create the conditions for other working-class scammers to ply their trade. As long as this is the case, scammers are simply the price modern conservatives have to pay for the way they conduct politics.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

4 Responses to The right-wing con

  1. itchy says:

    One thing I’ve always wondered about the “jobs” argument: How many jobs do you need? If unemployment is at a low, how many people are out there looking for a job who can’t find one? Do blue collar workers think they’re going to be in line for a corporate CEO gig if we just cut taxes?

  2. homeys44 says:

    Tax cuts did boost the economy. I dare an actual Democrat running for president to say otherwise to a working class voter. Probably be the bggest issue in 2020. Step right up lefties. Then tell them that oil and coal jobs are history. Then call them deplorable racists. Take the Drum path to working class voter glory.

    • Steve Greene says:

      1) Ummmm, yeah, lots of deficit spending does tend to boost the economy. That doesn’t mean it is smart or efficient policy depending on the surrounding context. 2) No, it won’t be. 3) Coal jobs are history whether you like it or not. There’s more Arby’s employees. Also, climate change is real. 4) The evidence for racial-resentment in 2016 voting patterns is overwhelming; deny it all you want (along with climate change).

      • homeys44 says:

        I didn’t say it was smart, I’m saying people like deficit spending. no matter what party is doing it. They especially don’t like when someone talks about taking away deficit spending.

        I’m eager to see this message of. “the tax cuts didn’t work so we’ll increase them, so you should vote for us, even though we think you’re a racist” in action.

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