Republicans Walking Out on the GOP – Should Anyone Be Surprised?

enoughAs discontent with the GOP builds, a whole group from Maine just announced they were leaving the Republican Party.

Effective immediately, we the undersigned are unenrolling from the Maine Republican Party. Furthermore, those of us who hold official Party positions, be they at the Republican National, State, County or even Town Committees, hereby resign. (Bangor News, August 18, 2013)

The Maine group cited a list of reasons, some on a national level, others regarding their own local needs.

There are times in your life when you must choose between two paths.

The first path, if taken, would require us to remain within the Republican Party despite the fact that we know without a doubt that Republican ideas of more freedom and less taxes — while sounding good and repeated by any and all candidates – are in fact, worth no more than the paper that they are written on.

The second path leads to a principled preservation of our individual integrity, helping out our fellow citizens at the local level, and doing our level best for our Creator, our families, and our friends. (Bangor News, August 18, 2013)

After getting over the fact that they actually did lose the last election, that people really are not happy with them, and that people really are leaving the party, Republicans are starting to question why. Frontier Lab, a market research firm,  recently completed a study to help them figure out that very question. Their findings included:

… four core events precede disaffiliation from the Republican label: (1) Rejection of “Lesser of Two Evils” Argument; (2) Articulation of Loss of Hope in GOP; (3) Affiliation with a New Community, and (4) Incident of Perceived Betrayal by GOP Establishment. (Frontier Lab, 2013)

No argument there. What that boils down to is yes, people are not happy with the Republican Party. That is pretty much why they voted Democrat in the last election, even if they weren’t completely in line with everything the Democrats had to say, lesser of two evils and all that. Yes, a whole lot of people feel betrayed by their leaders, except now, even the leaders are leaving.

Part of me wants to say, ‘well, they saw the light.’ When was younger, I too was a Republican. Change was a learning process; through my work, I spent a whole lot time learning about the issues and how they relate to people on an everyday basis.

Despite much media spin encouraging otherwise, I identify myself as working class and I am proud of that. For some reason, people don’t want to say that anymore, like it is somehow a bad thing. I do not agree. In a whole lot of ways, this country got to where it is today because we had a strong working class, unions that worked for changes that were for the good of us all. As a people, we believe in hard work.

Working toward the common good is an American tradition and make no mistake, I believe in that tradition. Somehow, though, the Republicans want us to think that a good solid work ethic is a Republican value – that they somehow have a monopoly on hard work. I don’t think so. Could be that is just one more thing that people are tired of about the Republicans.

In the process of changing times, we somehow (as a country) got the notion that the people on the top of the so-called food chain were morally better, and more deserving than the rest of us. That they had somehow worked harder – and were thus arbiters of all that was good, decent, and moral. Could be that is what they wanted us to believe. And the spin kept spinning. I don’t buy that either.

We flat out demonize poor people. It doesn’t matter how many jobs they work, they are still considered lazy scum. No matter what we say out loud, we no longer value hard work, and surely not the people who do it. We continuously allocate more and more of our collected resources to the wealthy. Part of that has to do with the scam known as trickle-down economics.

When I first heard the notion, I thought it was a very good idea. Trickle-down economics sound good on paper. Sometimes you have to get away from the books to see how things work out in the real world though. (See Allen Clifton’s article for more on that.)

Instead of the trickle-down effect we were sold on and believed in, we now have one of the largest disparities in income from the top to the lower rungs of the economic ladder in recorded history.

The now infamous Walton family, of Walmart fame, owns 40% of the wealth in this entire country. Most of us think we are doing well if we manage to buy a house in our lifetime.

The thing is, despite the political noise about lazy poor people milking the system, Walmart is probably the biggest welfare queen the world has ever seen. They get subsidies and tax breaks to go into areas and open up their stores. The American people used to be quite happy to provide these subsidies because they believed the line about trickle-down being for the good of us all. It isn’t. That was a Republican lie. People know that now.

There are still folks who like to say, ‘Look at Walmart, our country could learn a lot from them.’ Sure, Walmart has jobs available – the problem is, most of the jobs don’t pay a living wage. They finagle the hours so it is next to impossible to get benefits, and in some stores, as many as 80% of the employees are on public assistance. And this is after we, the people of this country, subsidized them to go in and open up these stores. We, as a people, subsidized and continue to subsidize Walmart’s success. And the whole time, Republicans complain about poor people needing food. Like it is somehow the food stamps that are destroying our economy. I don’t think so.

Then Republicans like to snarl their noses, that “those people” should better themselves. “They should look for a better job, they’re not chained to Walmart!” Maybe that is true, maybe not. In some areas, Walmart has put so many local businesses out of  business; there are not a lot of other employment options. For all kinds of reasons, moving is not always a choice. Sometimes that is as good as it gets.

Despite their malarkey about not being able to pay any better than they do, they are among the absolute richest families in the entire world. The company is doing well. They can afford to pay their employees fairly, they simply choose not to. The thing is, we, the American people, helped them get where they are today. Why are they more deserving of our help than the poor and sick among us? Why are they more deserving than the rest of us? What have they really given back? Which brings me back to why I said the trickle-down thing doesn’t work. It has been a miserable failure. (See Manny Schewitz’s article for more on corporate greed.)

Walmart is just one example among many. Trickle-down has been a big part of Republican rhetoric for a long time. But trickle-down has not only been a miserable failure, it has produced some of the greediest, most selfishly callous individuals in the history of the world. The Papa John’s Pizza CEO with the $22 million estate made plenty of his own news when he declared he simply could not afford health care for his workers.

The Bangladesh garment factory is another example of callous disregard for the rights and well-being of workers. The last count I heard, the death toll was well over 1100. It wasn’t just Walmart involved with this one, but just weeks before the building collapse, Walmart said they wouldn’t spend an extra dime per garment to improve safety conditions in the building. The reason they are over there in the first place is because American workers demanded a living wage and safer working conditions. The whole time, you keep hearing about lazy, greedy American workers, that they are the ones who caused it all. I don’t think so. Walmart and the others, they knew before the collapse that the building was a problem.

Little things like that – all the while, Republicans keep passing laws that allow this behavior to continue while simultaneously proclaiming their Christianity, as if they have some kind of monopoly on morals, values, and Jesus himself. This little preacher’s daughter begs to differ. Sentencing 1100 people to death because ensuring their safety might cut into your profit margin when you are already one of the richest families in the world does not impress me much.

The list goes on. Jesus fed the poor, and he healed the sick— at every opportunity. He healed the sick on purpose. And he didn’t work tirelessly to thwart the efforts of anyone who also thought that taking care of the sick was a good idea. He also made it very clear that he did not believe in the death penalty, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)  Sound familiar?

People are leaving the Republican Party because they are increasingly devoid of morals and values, while they loudly proclaim their decisions are based on Christian morality. They are not. They are based on greed – and some are just plain evil. People who have bothered to open the Good Book know the difference.

Whether Democrat or Republican, not much of anybody is wonderfully happy with our government these days. Our elected officials have let us down in mass. Ordinary citizens have repeatedly protested the wrongs only to find that they are the ones lead away in handcuffs, judged in the wrong. College students sitting on a curb in protest have been pepper sprayed. Thousands have been arrested for protesting the illegal activities of Wall Street.

The list goes on and on. But instead of arresting those committing the wrong, and working toward change, they arrest the ones who dare to speak up. Then they sit there wondering why folks are mad. They needed a study to tell them that?

People are not just mad, they are disgusted – but they haven’t given up hope. There is most definitely a movement for change. Good solid Republicans slamming the door in the face of the GOP is just one of those changes, but I do believe there is more to come.

Regina Garson

Raised in the hill country of central Alabama, Regina Garson has degrees in Behavioral Science, Communications, and English. A long time writer, editor and activist, her career has involved both the social and the hard sciences. She has devoted her efforts to a number of causes including the War on Drugs, equality issues: race/diversity/women, labor and workplace issues, NASA, STEM education, and space development. She is founder and publisher of MagicStream.org, which is among the earliest self-help and wellness sites on the Internet. She also publishes a blog, where you can read more of her writing: Regina Garson's Blog. Follow her on Twitter @ReginaGarson, like her on Facebook, and read more of her articles in the archives.

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