Why are Republicans so mean?
This is not a random accusation. It’s a sincere question that has troubled me for several years. It actually is a two-part question:
- Are Republicans mean?
- If so, why?
1. ARE REPUBLICANS MEAN?
Given the key problems of the day, Republicans seem to settle on the meanest possible solution.
GUNS: Another day, another mass gun murder.
There are more guns in the United States than there are people — over 393 million firearms in the United States, and this number only includes civilian-owned firearms, meaning it doesn’t count firearms in possession by the military, government agencies, or by law enforcement.
That number means that there are enough guns for every single person in the United States (including men, women and children) to own one, with 67 million guns left over.
That number is incredibly high, especially when you consider that only four in ten adults say they live in a home with a gun.
The United States has the most civilian owned firearms than any other country in the world at 120.5 per 100 people, with Yemen, a country that has been in a bloody civil war for several years, coming in a far second at 52.8 guns per 100 people.
“We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.
“We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”
Such a program already exists, to an extent: the Texas School Marshals Program, which was created in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
That program allows teachers and administrators to act as “school marshals,” entitled to carry firearms after completing 80 hours of a training course conducted by a law enforcement academy.
(Reuters reports that the Texas State Teachers Association has opposed the program, arguing that the focus should be on taking guns out of schools.)
In fact, the armed guard at the Texas school did nothing. Armed police were in the school for an hour an armed man finally killed the murderer.
That’s a total of an hour and twenty minutes that fully armed people did nothing.
From the Chicago Tribune: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. tried to nudge Republicans into taking up a domestic terrorism bill that had cleared the House quickly last week after mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and a church in Southern California targeting people of color.
He said it could become the basis for negotiation.
But the vote failed along party lines, raising fresh doubts about the possibility of robust debate, let alone eventual compromise, on gun safety measures.
The final vote was 47-47, short of the 60 needed to take up the bill. All Republicans voted against it.
And then there are the military-style solutions:
During Fox News’s coverage Tuesday night of America’s most recent mass shooting, it was apparently too soon to discuss gun reform—but the right time to propose that schools be equipped with booby traps, armed military contractors, and bulletproof blankets.
Sean Hannity urged the U.S. government to hire military and police contractors to patrol schools.
“[Place] retired military, retired law enforcement outside the perimeter of every school in the country, they can donate their time, we can offer them tax breaks, no income tax in the state, no income tax federally, 10 hours a week, and we can have every school in America covered,”
Another solution pitched on the network came via Maureen O’Connell, a former FBI agent, who suggested that the onus is on parents to invest in bulletproof armor for their children.
Colion Noir, a gun-culture social media influencer, said on Fox News that American schools should be “so hardened”––i.e., heavily defended and inaccessible to the public.
If you think the above “solutions” are crazy, that’s only because you are not a right-wing viewer of Fox News, the home of the Republican, Trumpian gun-nut clan.
Reducing the number of guns and the number of people carrying guns is unthinkable to Republicans, who always choose the most confrontational, warlike, aggressive, mean-spirited approach to any problem.
RELIGION: If you believe religion is about morality and the Golden Rule, you would be wrong with regard to the Republican party, or at least to its political efforts.
For the party (if not individuals), religion is about Christianity über alles. Other religions need not apply.
GOP pols Robinson, Walker, and Cawthorn align themselves with a movement seeking to end the separation of church and state.
A particular theme to which all three men have returned is that of persecuted Christianity and the need to institute religious teaching and principles into all areas of civic life, particularly public schools, which they say should be reformed according to their religious principles or abandoned by Christian families.
The American Renewal Project was launched by founder David Lane in the 2013-2014 election cycle. Its goal, as stated by Lane, is to “engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.”
Robinson stated that the United States is and has always been a “Christian nation” and invited those who disagree with that premise to leave the country.
Mark Levin, a talk radio personality who hosts a weekend Fox News program, suggested that bringing “Judeo-Christian principles” and prayer into schools could help stop future mass shootings.
There is nothing wrong with someone having religious beliefs, but when those beliefs claim ownership of America, the eviction of non-Christians, and the establishment of a harsh theocracy, democracy is doomed.
ABORTION: The Republican solution favors punishment for women and children, vs. embryos and fetuses, even those embryos that clearly are not yet sentient.
Many Republicans favor no abortion at any stage, and some want to eliminate any form of birth control, like condums and IUDs, even when no embryo has yet formed. They choose a sperm over a human.
I won’t go through all the “side” effects of abortion banning, the inevitable deaths of mothers, the ongoing misery for financially, emotionally, or mentally unfit mothers birthing unwanted, unaffordable, and/or disabled children.
I merely argue that banning abortions, particularly in the first few weeks of pregnancy, is the meanest possible approach to the question of abortion.
IMMIGRATION: America is a gigantic nation, in area, population, and in resources.
As of March, 2022, we had 332,812,000 people living here, of whom about 12 million (3.6%) are undocumented.
In 2020, we removed or returned 406,000 immigrants, or about one-tenth of one percent of our population.
Had we accepted every single one of them, our population would have “soared” from 332,812,000 to 333,218,000. This would not have made a noticeable difference in any anti-immigration factor.
Why are they removed or returned? Mostly it’s because they are illegal according to current law, and our method for processing them is so inefficient and antiquated, they have little hope of becoming legal (except if you are rich, in which case there is no problem at all).
All of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants (Yes, even you indigenous folks. Your ancestors came here from other lands). Yet, there is now the false claim that rather than being an asset to America, immigrants take, but don’t contribute.
An article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis describes the many ways in which immigrants are a net benefit to working America.
They do not take jobs away from native-born Americans; they do not fill the rolls for public assistance; they are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than are the native-born, and they do pay taxes.
While both political parties suffer from an anti-immigrant delusion to some degree, the Republicans are more ruthless in their interpretation and utilization of immigration law.
They even want to send back the 650,000 “Dreamers,” who are among our very best people.
The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it planned to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) program created by the Obama administration to give temporary, renewable protections to these young people, nicknamed Dreamers.
Trump’s decision immediately threw Dreamers into turmoil and fear, while also triggering a legal battle that wound up in the supreme court last year and led to this June 2020 decision.
The program has been in limbo since the 2017 announcement.
HEALTH CARE: The right-wing is notorious for its attitude toward the not-rich. They wanted to eliminate the very popular ACA (Obamacare).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new report that shows 31 million Americans have health coverage through the Affordable Care Act – a record.
The report also shows that there have been reductions in uninsurance rates in every state in the country since the law’s coverage expansions took effect.
Today’s report shows the important role the ACA has played in providing coverage to millions of Americans nationwide.
The report also shows that between 2010 and 2016, the number of nonelderly uninsured adults decreased by 41 percent, falling from 48.2 million to 28.2 million.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have experienced reductions in their uninsured rates since the implementation of the ACA, with states that expanded Medicaid experiencing the largest reduction in their uninsured rate.
To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to cover adults under the ACA.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Guess which party they vote for.
There are more than 2 million people across the United States who have no option when it comes to health insurance.
They don’t qualify for Medicaid in their state, and make too little money to be eligible for subsidized health plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges.
Essentially, the federal government will cover 90% of the costs of the newly eligible population, and an additional 5% of the costs of those already enrolled. It’s a good financial deal.
An analysis by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the net benefit for these states would be $9.6 billion.
The reluctance among some Republican-led legislatures and governors to expand Medicaid may be a combination of partisan resistance to President Obama’s signature health law, and not believing “this kind of government intervention for these groups of people is appropriate.”
It’s not a financial decision by these Republican states. They do it out of meanness and a lack of concern for those who are not rich.
POVERTY: Republicans tend to blame the poor for being poor, and claim the poor are lazy, need to lift themselves by their bootstraps, and should not rely on help from the government.
Thus, Republicans slash programs that benefit the poor, despite the fact that:
The Republican House Committee on the Budget reported a budget resolution for 2017 calling for trillions of dollars in cuts to programs serving vulnerable populations.
Major cuts affecting low-income individuals include:
$2 trillion from Medicaid – up to $1 trillion from cutting the base program plus another $1 trillion from repealing the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion;
$887 billion from already-low non-defense discretionary funding levels, putting a broad array of programs serving low-income populations such as housing assistance, WIC, job training, and others at risk of deep funding cuts; $185 billion from federal college aid for low-income students;
$157 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program;
and $0.6 trillion from other income security programs, a category where most spending is for safety-net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child nutrition, Supplemental Security Income for the aged and disabled, Unemployment Insurance, refundable tax credits for low-income workers, and child care.net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child nutrition, Supplemental Security Income for the aged and disabled, Unemployment Insurance, refundable tax credits for low-income workers, and child care.
CRIME: Republicans oppose street crime (which is more often committed by poor people) than white-collar crime.
For street crime, Republicans favor harsh punishment after the fact as a future deterrent vs. prevention of the causes of street crime (poverty, poor education, poor housing, poor opportunities).
Republicans believe in more stringent sentencing laws for felons, support a database for convicted child murderers, support courts having the right to use the death penalty, and believe in stronger victim rights and harsher punishments for certain, especially heinous crimes.
They view stricter punishment as a deterrent to future crime, and believe this is the best way to address crime and criminals in today’s society.
They oppose prison reforms proposed by the Democratic Party that would see better higher education options and more comfortable accommodations in prisons.
IN SUMMARY, Republicans choose the most mean-spirited “solutions” to problems involving Guns, Abortion, Immigration, Health Care, Poverty, Religion, and Crime.
2. WHY DO REPUBLICANS CHOOSE THE MEANER SOLUTIONS?
The excuse often given is money, especially with regard to Immigration and Health Care.
But this excuse is belied by the fact that 12 states would have received an additional $9.6 billion from the federal government, had they accepted the expansion of Medicare.
Further, there is zero evidence that immigrants are a financial burden on America. On the contrary, they are the basis upon which America was built.
With regard to Guns, the excuse is that there is a Constitutional right for a citizen to carry a gun. But this is a manufactured excuse created by the intentional misreading of the 2nd Amendment.
Right-wingers argue that the first thirteen words of the 2nd Amendment — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” — are absolutely meaningless, the first and only time that self-proclaimed “originalists” have made such an extraordinary effort to ignore plain language in the Constitution.
More than money, the meanness of the right-wing has to do with power. Gap Psychology describes how people often wish to narrow the income/wealth/power Gap above us, and to widen the Gap below us.
Income is “high” or “low,” not in absolute, but in relative terms. An income of $20,000 a year is high if everyone else is making $2,000, but it is low if everyone else is making $200,000. Wealth and power are similarly subject to relativism.
Because hatred, anger, and meanness are childen of fear (See: Fear and hatred, the evil twins of human emotion) it is the fear of losing ground, especially to those “below,” that leads to hatred and its final expression: Meanness.
The “great replacement” is a conspiracy theory that states that nonwhite individuals are being brought into the United States and other Western countries to “replace” white voters to achieve a political agenda.
White supremacists argue that the influx of immigrants, people of color more specifically, will lead to the extinction of the white race.
The alleged supermarket shooter and other extremists claim the U.S. has to close its borders to immigrants.
The “great replacement” theory is sometimes seen in other ways such as claims of voter replacement and immigrants invading America.
The claim assumes that immigrants and nonwhite people will vote a certain way, ultimately drowning out the votes of white Americans.
White supremacists blame Jewish people for nonwhite immigration to the U.S., and the “replacement” theory is now associated with antisemitism.
President Donald Trump, the most powerful Republican leader in decades, condemned both neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
But, his first statement and subsequent defenses of it, referred to “very fine people on both sides.” implying a moral equivalence between white supremacists and those who opposed them.
Trump also referred to African countries, Haiti, and El Salvador as “shithole” nations and he asked why the U.S. can’t have more immigrants from (white) Norway.
Republicans are motivated by a GOP stoked-from-above fear that the Gap below them will narrow. They are afraid that immigrants will take their jobs, and that Jews will outcompete them. They are afraid of women making decisions.
The conservative men compare their own masculinity with that of black men, and find themselves wanting, which is why they idolize the hyper (though phony) masculinity of a Donald Trump, and fear gays.
Their fear manifests itself in the need to have, carry and even display the protection of guns, the bigger and more powerful, the better.
Republicans are “conservatives” whose fears demand that they protect themselves by conserving a mythical old moral order.
Sadly, the mythical old order that Republicans fondly embrace in their imaginations includes xenophobia, slavery, misogyny, hopes for a Christian theocracy, fear and loathing of the poor, and bigotry against non-whites, gays, Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians.
In short, they fear being replaced.
Democrats are progressives, meaning they wish to progress beyond such archaic beliefs. No, they are not pure. They have their own selfish desires. But they don’t fear the future the way conservatives do.
That is why conservatives are anti-science. Science brings the changes conservatives fear.
In clinging to a mythical past, the conservatives also reject past realities to the point where they fear schools even discussing critical race theory (housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy, and the legacy of slavery on all Americans).
They also dread teaching “Social and Emotional Learning“ (ethically managing one’s emotions, empathy for diverse groups, etc.) for fear that this lifts minority groups to parity with white Christians.
If you want to understand what motivates Trump worship, QAnon belief, Fox News viewership, white supremacy, gun hugging, extreme religiosity, harsh treatment of immigrants, criminals, and the poor, religious bigotry, attempts at a coup, and all the other craziness of today’s right-wing, the answer can be found in one word: FEAR.
These people exhibit all the symptoms of group terror. In various ways, the fear of being replaced is fundamental to the meanness and bigotry that has become more widespread in America.
Perhaps the only way to solve the problem is not to reason with Trumpist Republicans, which undoubtedly you have found doesn’t work, but rather to reassure them.
And the best way to do that is to maintain the Gaps in the lower strata.
This may seem like heresy, but I am coming to the belief that Gap Psychology — the part about not wanting the Gaps below you to be narrowed — is so baked in to the human psyche, that no amount of well-meaning, logical argument will overcome it.
While we should narrow the Gaps near the top where the billionaires currently reside, our efforts should be to lift the bottom and middle as one unit.
Examples: COVID vaccinations are available free to everyone, regardless of income. A Medicare for All program should cover everyone equally, regardless of income. So should Social Security for All.
These federal benefits should be available to all children, regardless of income.
All federal government program benefits should be available, regardless of income.
There can be any number of criteria for receiving federal benefits, but income should not be one of them.
This will help allay the “replacement” fear that is the basis for inter-group hatred and meanness.
And by the way, not only can the federal government easily afford it, but income-unrelated benefits will grow the economy for all Americans.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.
The most important problems in economics involve:
- Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
- Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps: Ten Steps To Prosperity:
- Eliminate FICA
- Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
- Social Security for all
- Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
- Salary for attending school
- Eliminate federal taxes on business
- Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
- Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
- Federal ownership of all banks
- Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9%
The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.