The Republicans, The Protestant Ethic and the Poor

The Republican attack machine has been in full force this election season and their number one target is Barack Obama, but pulling a close second are poor people. The GOP has been attacking poor people for some time now in their policies but now the poor are attacked almost daily by their rhetoric. Wednesday at the Republican National Convention, GOP operatives hammered the President and the poor relentlessly. In recent days, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have attacked welfare recipients calling them sponges and leeches on society.

These attacks, rooted in the value system of the Republican Party and empowered by the Protestant Ethic and the pulpits of churches, have been around for years, well before the current crop of neo-conservative theocrats. Poor people have been looked down upon by those who believe their poorness is their own doing and cause. They believe poor people are a drain on society and they should not have to pay poor people’s way. Under the philosophy of the Protestant Ethic, poor people are poor because they have sinned and their poverty is a result of god’s wrath.

This, of course, is America — and we do things in grand style; we equate poorness with race and color. The GOP speaks of equality and the American Dream but, please, people of color need not apply.

The Republicans have stooped to new lows in the attack on the poor; not only do they want the most vulnerable to continue to habitat the lowest stations of the economic ladder they also want to strip the neediest citizens of their right to vote. State after Republican state has enacted voter ID laws whose sole purpose is to restrict the voting rights of poor and uneducated people. GOP lawmen have been quoted as saying as such was the tactic of the legislation.

The Republican Party has stepped off the curb on the belittling of the poor. You hear statements such as “50% of Americans pay no tax” which, of course, is a total fabrication. The poor of America pay taxes daily just to stay alive, living hand to mouth like junkies looking for a fix, but in this case the drug of choice is the food and clothing for their children.

People like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not have a clue what it is like for the poor of America, and in the Republican Party, all they see is the color of the skin of those in poverty. They don’t see the poor families in rural America, they only see poverty in the inner cities and all they see is black and brown.

When African-Americans were freed there were 4 million ex-slaves living in the south as there were 4 million whites. In the years that have passed those 4 million whites grew into 40 million members of the middle class but because of racism those same 4 million African-Americans grew into 25 million and today more than half of African American still live in poverty. The stain of slavery did not go away. White southern racists and racist northerners systematically abused African-Americans and have kept them in social chains since. Inferior education, discrimination and flat out racism have contributed to the poverty-ridden lives of many people of color.

The sheer numbers of people living below the poverty line are staggering. 50 million people of 360 million in total population of the country are now in poverty. That means their annual family income is below $15,000, and in Tennessee they pay 9.25% in sales tax every day just to stay alive. The Republican Party is not the Party of the American Dream — the Republican Party is the Party of the Rich by the Rich and for the Rich. The table scraps it throws at the rest of society are self-serving acts of self promotion and ego. There is no evidence the Republican Party has done anything for the common good of America the only thing they have given America is materialism and greed.

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Image source: Just Another Abdullah