George Graham

Why Would Anyone Vote Republican? Here’s Why

A friend argues that the Democratic Party takes the votes of black Americans for granted. She insists the Republicans have done more than Democrats for “black issues” in America.

She cites Affirmative Action as a case in point. It was Nixon who gave us that, she says. And it’s true that Nixon implemented some Affirmative Action policies in the early Seventies. But I guess she’s too young to remember that it was John Kennedy who introduced the term.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

This specific term was first used to describe US government policy in 1961. Directed to all government contracting agencies, President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 mandated “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”

And the idea had been around for a long time before that, In 1943 President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which called for contractors to guarantee nondiscrimination in employment in government-funded projects.

I don’t know where my friend got her revisionist history, but I suspect whoever fed it to her did it on purpose. There’s a propaganda campaign going on,and there are people who get paid to spread misinformation. I think they target black Americans with college degrees as I usually hear that kind of thing from people who have done well for themselves.

One thing they’ll tell you is that Lincoln freed the slaves and Lincoln was a Republican. And nobody can deny that.

But what they don’t take into consideration is the way American politics has changed since then. Today’s Republicans would probably reject Lincoln as some kind of Big Government oppressor who violated states’ rights and interfered with the free market (which in the South depended on slavery for its success).

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the parties did a flip-flop.The Dixiecrats fled to the Republican Party and – as Johnson predicted – the Democrats “lost the South for a generation.”

I suspect that these historical arguments are mostly a smoke screen, anyway.

Human nature being what it is, I bet a lot of people – black and white – vote Republican because they got theirs and they simply don’t want to share their good fortune.

A congressional Republican candidate in Alabama says it plainly.

Tea Party-backed candidate Rick Barber has come up with a new ad (photo above) in which he declares that the system of taxation and social safety nets is a form of “slavery” — and he uses an Abraham Lincoln impersonator to back him up.

“Hey Abe,” Barber asks. “If someone is forced to work for months to pay taxes so that a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure or a bailout, what’s that called? What’s it called when one man is forced to work for another?”

The Lincoln impersonator answers, “Slavery,” followed by a rapid-fire montage of Southern African-American slavery, Communist labor camps, and Nazi concentration camps.

It’s mischievous nonsense, of course. But there’s a sliver of populist sentiment in the concept. Some Americans simply don’t accept the idea that any organized society needs to be funded by its members. They want to keep every penny they’ve got, not give any to the government.

If you think about it, you will realize that by sharing your good fortune to ensure the welfare of your society you will probably reap future benefits as the society prospers. But, while I certainly don’t admire them, I can understand if some lucky people don’t want to give anything back. I can see why they might vote Republican.

What I can’t understand is why people who have not lucked out, who don’t make six-figure incomes, choose to side with the rich against the poor.

It just doesn’t make sense.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com