Here in Tennessee and all around the United States, but particularly in the South, there is a very curious collusion between the rich and poor. An unfortunate result of this endlessly strange relationship is that the poor end up voting against their own interests, particularly their economic interests.
Since the working classes are increasingly poor and/or disadvantaged in relation to the rich and super-rich, one might suggest that anyone who votes for a Republican politician is, in effect, siding with the top 5 percent of American wage earners against the other 95 percent. It’s a bizarre form of economic warfare in which the vast majority shoot themselves in the foot, ensuring their own defeat.
The Tea Party, while it professes to uphold Christian and family values, is actually resorting to what I call “Darwinian economics” (i.e., survival of the strongest and most ruthless, at the expense of the poor, children, the elderly, the sick, the unemployed and people struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck). Who can possibly imagine that Jesus Christ, his apostles or the Hebrew prophets would have ever sided with the sharks against their defenseless prey?
Every thinking person understands that big business in pursuit of profits often acts like a shark swimming through a school of dolphins. Predators are by nature heartless and ruthless when they have their prey in sight. Modern civilization is, to a large degree, a compact that protects its weakest citizens from people who would take advantage of them. The Tea Party undermines that compact with its Tarzan-like mantra: “Business good. Government bad.”
Why would someone who isn’t rich vote for Republican politicians who, as lackey-like agents for the rich and their “special interests,” demonize what they call “entitlements,” making it clear that they intend to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the bone, rather than repealing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?
There is a simple solution. We live in a democracy, and if voters cast their ballots for politicians who vote with their own economic interests in mind, the GOP will be forced to change its tactics.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.