The other day a friend of mine was preparing a tax return for an individual who happened to be a proud Trump supporter. This individual went on and on about how great Trump is and how he is going to make America great again and so on. My friend, being the harden professional that she is, listened intently and forcefully clinched her teeth while displaying a compulsory painful smile. After listening for a while it was time to start the taxes.
The individual handed my friend her W2 and after reviewing the income listed my friend nearly fell out of her chair. The individual made slightly over $11,000 last year. My friend sat in disbelief and asked herself, how could a person who is obviously living in poverty vote for a president and party who don’t have her interest at heart. Needless to say, that was the start of an interesting conversation.
For years now the working-class in this country have been gleefully voting against their own self-interest. This is why when we look at most of the policies Trump is putting into action, the vast majority hurt working-class families. After all, this isn’t rocket science – for years the Republican party have been advocating policies which benefit the wealthy and do very little for the working-class. Let’s take House speaker Paul Ryan for instance. This is a guy who admires the radical right-wing extremist Ayn Rand, a philosopher who believed that charity was NOT a virtue and advocated egoism, which promotes an idea that people should be driven by their own self-interest and not by altruism, or the belief that we are all in this together… you know, the kind of thing Jesus talked about…she wasn’t feeling that.
Self-interest may sound good, but think about what that type of behavior produces when people make decisions for their own wellbeing and not the wellbeing of everyone. That’s when you get Wall Street crooks and greedy corporations. Ryan also believes in trickledown economics where he says we should give tax breaks to wealthy individuals and big businesses because they are the so called “job creators” of the nation – and when they do good, we all do good. But that philosophy has proven to only enrich the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
For instance, during the Bush years Republicans enacted this philosophy by cutting taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses. When Obama took office, as the result of a deal he made with Republicans to pass his stimulus bill, Obama agreed to extended the Bush tax cuts. This resulted in almost 20 years of tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals. So think about it… if trickledown economics works, and the rich and corporations have been paying little in taxes, shouldn’t something have trickled down to the working-class by now??? But I’ll tell you what did happen during that time. Corporations and wealthy individuals made huge profits and hoarded large amounts of cash (read more).
But even though this theory is flawed and proven to be bullshit, the Republican party manages to sale this lemon to the American public every election…. and it works!!!! Why does it work you may be asking? It works because of a little thing called a wedge issue. A wedge issue is exactly what it sounds like. They are creative ways of dividing people and splitting their votes.
For instance, Trump voters in rural America and Obama voter in urban areas have way more in common than they would like to believe. When it comes to economics, we are all tired of the rigged system which keeps the rich richer and the poor poorer. But if I’m a rich person I ask myself, “how can I divide these dumbass people and get them to fight each other instead of fighting me… the rich guy stealing all their wealth”. The answer is… by using wedge issues. So while you are all fighting each other about Muslim bans, gay marriage, and building a wall to keep Mexicans out, I’ll be sneaking out the back door of the country with the wealth of the nation. And that, my friends, is how wedge issues work. Which in turn is how a person making $11,000 a year gets suckered into voting for a Republican like Donald Trump.