…Now What’s The Point Of That?
The daughter of a staunch Republican family questions her relatives’ attraction to a set of values that is far, far removed from their best interests.
There’s a ballot in front of you. On it, you have the option between several people, with neat little boxes next to said people’s names. Your duty as an active member of American society is to proudly check the box that you think and know to be the right choice for yourself and for the future of this country. The choice that will ensure liberty and justice for all while simultaneously solidifying your own values and allowing you to make an imprint upon society. The only trouble is, you have no idea what the fuck you’re voting for.
Ideally, you want to vote for the party that backs up the issues you feel the most strongly about. You want to vote for the candidate that will do good things. Things that will benefit you, your family, your community. Don’t you? So, of course, being logical and levelheaded, you understand that one person alone isn’t going to make all your wildest dreams of American fortitude come true. You decide to vote for the lesser of two evils. You weigh the pro’s and con’s based on how a new politician or an entire political party will affect your life in the future. Hopefully.
This is all well and good, but what about the people who aren’t quite as grounded in logic as this profile description? What about the people that surrender their beliefs to institutions of policy and politics merely because it is ingrained in their psyche that it’s what they are supposed to do. More specifically, what about the guy with blue collar circumstances, but a white collar political mindset? Blue Collar Republicans. An elusive and mysterious group of people indeed. The term itself is somewhat of an oxymoron. It’s tough to decipher exactly what reasoning goes into decision-making of which is not backed wholly by logic. But from what I see, it is a unique combination of nationalism, superiority, tradition and fear. And possibly genetics.
Nationalism is an interesting thing in today’s day and age. It might not sound so bad; after all, it is essentially a good thing to carry loyalty for one’s country. And I consider myself quite patriotic in fact. But what happens when this is taken to a level above and beyond what is good or healthy or even makes any sense anymore? The freedom and loyalty that blue collar republicans often think they possess looks to me like a gross reflection of their ironic binds to society – not their freedom at all. So afraid of socialism being infringed upon American society, they give up their own rights to choose what’s right for them in order to remain “devoted” to their nation. Seems far from democratic to me. I grew up surrounded by the men in my extended family clinging to a severe case of patriotism. But why I’m wondering, are people who grew up with next to nothing (which they did) and in fact continue to suffer for the benefit of the wealthy people in this country, so shackled to national pride? Because it’s macho, it’s a tall man with good posture and a brief case. It’s a clean-shaven beard. It’s white, it’s Catholic, it’s strong – unshakable – superior. That’s what the image so often is. Not a scruffy-faced, loose-moraled wavering hippie. Dear God anything but that. Ah, such is the stereotypical and radically incorrect image of a left-minded person to the fearful, paranoid blue collar republican.
Children typically adopt the same values as their parents simply out of duty, ritual and influence. This enables parents to shape the minds of youth everywhere, therefore empowering them in an overwhelming way. Enablement. Tricky son of a bitch. This kind of responsibility seemingly might not weigh heavily on one’s shoulders, as it is not usually taken very seriously. This common oversight is crucial in understanding the development of public opinion in America. The way somebody decides what to believe in, whether it is politics, religion, or a favorite baseball team, should reflect knowledge on the subject, what is comprehensive, as well as personal convictions.
Unfortunately, this is not how beliefs are instituted. At all. Instead, if your parents are Catholic, Republican, Yankee fans, you typically carry those beliefs forward for no particular reason at all, aside from tradition, bias and probably nostalgia. This is relatively harmless when we’re talking about major league baseball. Significantly more harmful when we’re talking about politics. Blindly running with a set of beliefs that in fact influence your life and the lives of others is not necessarily a safe run to take. Something tells me that people should be given all the facts before they attach themselves to any combination of political values.
Common sense is one thing, but what about genetics? Could genetics be at the forefront of this whole democratic debacle? Commended author George Lakoff suggests that DNA is somehow intrinsically linked to the beliefs we hold in “The Political Mind.” One’s mind, unfortunately, is not always political in any which way, which is where we encounter difficulties. Can it really be chalked up to heredity? There’s a possibility, but what is more pressing than dwelling on the inextricable political glitches of science is to seriously (at least) attempt to enlighten the American public to the subtle, or in some cases not so subtle glitches in society and subsequently political affairs. Ya gotta try.
The typical blue collar republican is not very privileged. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t work hard. There’s no actual solid reason why – other than sometimes chance. Chance is a funny thing. It chooses people at random for a variety of different reasons, none of them being logic. Which is, as it happens, the same way a blue collar republican chooses his party. Seems to me that the reasons behind political choices should not mirror those behind chance.
The fearful blue collared Republican wants to make sure his family is “safe” at all times. So he supports the overall wealth of the nation, which is so emphasized in the republican party. He also wants to protect himself and his loved ones from any and all impending threats to American freedom, thus supporting the rapid build up of U.S. military and other safety measures concerning foreign affairs. Bearing arms seems like one of these safety measures. Protecting the “sanctity” of marriage and children seems like another. He also wants to stand for the pro-life statute and protect his morals. In this list of ideals, it could be construed that the thoughts are stemming from a place of self-interest. Construe as you will, this is not the case. This is a place of fear and mistrust, panic and overall insecurity. Why else would the blue collar republican want to so overtly vote against his personal wellbeing? Because he is more concerned with what he considers the wellbeing of the country? Sorry, I don’t buy it. The Republican Party feeds on the fears of society rather than demonstrating truths. Manipulation is at the podium, and diffidence is the speaker. Knowing how to use people’s uncertainties as ammunition is a skill both incredible and frightening. And reversely, this manipulation fuels the arrogance and superiority of the conservative population.
What does this blue collar republican guy have going for him? What’s in his favor? Sure the republican party historically aims for lower taxes. This doesn’t exactly happen. Healthcare? Definitely not. Support of small businesses? Job security? Social security? Not quite. Meanwhile, these are the very things that actually do affect blue collar life. More than anything. Maybe, gasp, even more than gay marriage and the second amendment?! Just maybe.
Why does a working class man want to back a political party that has put several of his peers out of work, has him himself graying at the temples over job security, and continued support of a war that had billions of American dollars spilling rapidly away from his own sight? The answer is quite readily available in John McCain’s campaign slogan from 2008 “Country First.” Instead of a few words of encouragement or strength, this phrase reinforces ambiguity and paints a vague, but decidedly patriotic, haze of anxiety over the message. It is underhanded and sly. Easy to cover or justify. Even glamorize. But not without a hidden agenda. Manipulation all the same. Supplying America with this token level of insecurity is obviously the pinnacle of Republican principles. And the blue collar conservative public laps it up. For a group of reasons that are intangible and dreamy. Or wait, I guess some of the reasons are tangible. Like that entirely legal loaded pistol on his top shelf. Now that’s concrete.