Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, former VP Candidate, former media darling, and overall excellent person at holding the title former something, has tweeted the following:
God Bless the legacy of our 16th President. He served with honesty and integrity, held our nation together in the… http://t.co/pxaPFRWHDF
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) February 12, 2014
Now, we do admit that the 16th President of the United States was a member of the Republican Party, we can’t deny that. But what we can deny is that if he were alive today, Sarah Palin and her ilk would be the last people on earth saying “God bless you” to him.
President Lincoln wrote the following to attorney Leonard Swett on May 30, 1860, less than a year before the Civil War started:
Your letter, written to go to N.Y. is long, but substantially right, I believe. You heard Weed converse with me, and you now have Putnams letter. It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just, the same thing—fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have. If this suggests any modification of, or addition to, your letter, make it accordingly. Burn this, not that there is any thing wrong in it; but because it is best not to be known that I write at all. Yours as ever
It’s the part in bold above that makes the right squirm: fairness. Fairness is anathema to the very foundation of modern conservatism. Their strategy is simple, divide and conquer. This works on every issue they go after, every single one. Here’s a few examples:
The right’s strategy has been to show same sex marriage as a threat to “traditional marriage”. First, they had to define “traditional marriage”. (That’s in quotes for a reason). They did that by saying it’s marriage as defined in the Bible. Except, they only look at Adam and Eve. They don’t look at Solomon or David or Mary & Joseph or Abraham & Sarah, you get my point. They chose the one that most closely resembles the modern definition of marriage, one man and one woman in a life long, socially and legally recognized partnership. Then they brought in the boogey man, gay people. Remember the arguments:
- If you let gay people get married, next it will be man and dog getting married (Rick Santorum’s argument in a nut-shell)
- It will be the end of western civilization
- It will threaten my marriage to my wife (husband)
While all these arguments were in their nascent form and were being media tested, Massachusetts legalized gay marriage and Vermont and New York recognized domestic partnerships. This sent their heads spinning. So what did they do? Voter approved measures.
The right knows that one thing always works: rile up the social conservatives and you will get their assess to the polls. So they passed a literal shit ton of anti-marriage equality state constitutional amendments in a bunch of states.
The tide has turned, and we are, through the courts, undoing these laws and providing for the rights that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, equal protection under the law.
How do you get poor people to support you when you want to screw them? You need their support, there are many more workers than there are managers. It’s a good question. The right has a great tactic for it: aspiration.
We all want a better life, right? We all want more money, more free time, and to be happy and secure in our lives. We want to know that our progeny or, at least the generation that comes after us, will have it better than us. It’s pretty simple. So you’d think that raising the minimum wage, within reason, would help us achieve this goal. It does, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters right now is how the right convinces people that it doesn’t, and how it will hurt them personally.
The right uses aspiration to their advantage. Here’s how the sell works:
- Tell a rags to riches story laced with struggle and personal triumph. Better yet, have the rags-to-riches person tell the story.
- Give a small talk about your “vision for ‘merica”
- Include in your vision prosperity and wealth for all who work for it
- Then talk about cutting taxes on the rich or preventing the minimum wage, because it will hurt their chances to get “there” because employers will have to lay people off or raise prices.
See, pretty simple plan. it uses a high school or college freshmen level of economic understanding. The part that they miss is the knock-on effect of more money at the lower income spectrum. People who make very little have to spend everything they make. Give them more money, they will spend more money. Give a super rich dude more money, he won’t necessarily spend more money; he might not even notice it.
Anyway, that works for a while, but eventually an undercurrent begins rippling through society. The people want better lives, rightfully so. Now, how do they stop it now: “Class Warfare”
This author is in the 6th Armored Cavalry, 4th Division, Middle Class Army. The class warfare troupe is dependent upon the following arguments:
- The reason people are poor is because they don’t want to work
- You want to work, and you work hard for your money
- Your boss or the owner of your company, works hard for his/her money too
- If he/she has to spend more on labor, people will lose their jobs because they won’t have enough money to pay them
- Alternatively, they argue that prices will have to go up, thus driving away customers and layoffs (same end point, different road)
It’s a seductive argument when presented with gusto and moxie, perchance spunk or panache. It’s an inclusive argument, the speaker, a right wing politician, convinces you, the listener, that you are a good person. You are a good person because you work hard for your money. And your boss is a good person because he works hard for his money, too. If you take more money from him, he’ll have less to put in the business. He might have to lay good people off, like you. So, do you really want that minimum wage rise?
It pits society against the poor.
I don’t want to talk about this. I really, really don’t. But nothing points out divide and conquer like healthcare. Healthcare in the US is currently coupled with employment. You have a full-time job, you get health insurance, at least for the most part, before the ACA (Obamacare). So, this sets up pretty simply as class warfare all over again. Imagine a conservative congressperson telling you this:
You know Jimmy, can I call you Jimmy? Jimmy, you work hard for your benefits. You have really good benefits, too. You put in forty hours a week at the Acme Industries Plant, and you deserve the benefits you earned. Now, that Obama wants to start a socialist-wealth-redistribution program; and he’s starting with healthcare. You don’t want that, do you? You don’t want to be paying for some lazy, barely working, or non-working person’s health insurance, am I right? You don’t want your hard earned dollars to go help some, probably poor drug addict get health insurance… for free? You, Jimmy, you work hard for your health insurance. Why should this free loader get health insurance?
You almost agreed with that, didn’t you? It’s a butter up job alright, but one that a republican is really, really good at. It’s a classic right-wing move though. Demonize the poor, call them drug users. Equate monetary value to something that should be a human right.
These are just three simple examples. But here’s how we can tie them back in to the right’s hatred of fairness. But first, let’s define fairness in a socio-economic sense. To be fair we must ensure that all people have equal access to government services, protections, and benefits. To be fair we must ensure that all who work are treated and paid fairly, have safe working environments, and can afford to support their families. To be fair we must ensure, that all people have affordable access to healthcare, so that they don’t have to choose between food and drugs or rent and a doctor’s visit. To be fair we must ensure that all children and adults for that matter, have access to the best schools and teachers. To be fair we must at minimum ensure that all members of society are protected equally under the law and treated equally under the law.
Okay, so how does all this circle back to the Former In Chief Sarah Palin? Her comments about Lincoln were disingenuous. He sought fairness, he sought equality, he sought liberalism; none of these things does Mrs. Palin support. Not a damned one. She’s leading the charge against the ACA, is a staunch supporter of “traditional marriage”, and is against a raise in the minimum wage. All of these things speak to fairness. How can we let her get away with this?
It’s time to start calling bullshit when right-wingers invoke former members of their party, who wouldn’t be today. The republican party of Lincoln is not the Republican Party of today.