Editorial: Poor People: America’s Most Precious Resource (according to Republicans)

Since January 20, 2017, when President-elect Donald Trump took office, America has been on a landslide of political turmoil. From immigrants seeking asylum being detained and separated from their children, to the constant demonization of the press by Republican lawmakers, to monumental tax cuts for the rich, to this week’s shameful appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it has been a demolition derby for democracy and mainly the middle and working classes. While it looks like Trump and the GOP are running roughshod over everything with ruthless arrogance, there is a method to their madness.

Everything that the Republicans in power have done since Trump took office has been part of a calculated, well-spun plan that aims to increase the power of the upper class while making the middle class disappear and be absorbed into the poorest group of citizens. The middle class has been a thorn in the side of the one percent for a very long time. The middle class generally has enough money to prosper and makes up a large portion of corporate middle management. They have enough to have savings accounts, IRA’s and 401K’s, stock holdings, and very little debt. All of these things threaten the upper class, as they are desperate to be the ones calling the shots in this country.

When those who seek power and have enough influence to gain more, they will do whatever it takes to acquire more power and influence. The middle class has power that the wealthy do not want them to have, as they could effectively shift the economic and political power structures in the nation. So, the Republicans, their pockets lined with cash from the upper one percent, pass massive tax cuts for the rich people and make the middle class shoulder the brunt of the difference. This decreases the power the middle class has and lowers their potential for acquiring more. This burden, over time, will effectively shrink the middle class, sending those who cannot bear the burden to drop into the working class, our euphemism for poor people.

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Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue, used under Creative Commons Attribution, via Flickr

The next group of people to face the wrath of the GOP and the wealthy are women. Republicans hide behind the Bible and weak philosophical reasoning to limit contraception and eliminate legal abortion, but this is not why they truly want to prevent women from having reproductive freedom. The reason is exactly the same reason they want to eliminate the middle class: they need poor people. Poor people are the fuel for the Republican agenda. Women hold the power to create people, and can choose to exercise this power or not. The Republicans cannot have perfectly fertile women not producing people, so they strip women of that power and keep it for themselves. Combine that with institutionalized sexism and you get entitled men who see women as a tool for re-population instead of actual human beings. The government, as the great George Carlin once said, sees women as brood mares for the state.

Why would the rich need poor people? Don’t they spend a lot of time complaining about how poor people are sucking the nation dry with their welfare and constantly vilifying the poor to the rest of the country? Yes, but even so, they still require poor people. They are a very large part of their overall plan.

To illustrate this plan, imagine you are a poor child. Your race doesn’t matter. Rich people do not care if you’re black or white, as long as you’re poor, you’re valuable to them. You are born to a single mother who works a minimum wage job. You grow up malnourished, lacking proper health care, receiving substandard education, and enduring all the mental and emotional hardships poor people experience.

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Courtesy of starmanseries, used under Creative Commons Attribution, via Flickr

Then one day, a well-groomed man in military fatigues walks into your school and sets up a little table in the gym or the lobby. He reels you in with tales of lands abroad, learning new things and meeting new people. He entices you with the promise of leaving your current poor life behind to seek an education courtesy of Uncle Sam and becoming a true American hero. They really lean into the hero bit, lacing the conversation with talk about “protecting our nation from terrorist threats.” You can be a well-educated hero with a boatload of world experience under your belt. You just have to sign the paper, carry a gun for the government, and possibly shoot a bunch of people in the name of truth, justice, and the American way.

To a poor kid who has suffered his entire life, this sounds like a dream come true. Education, travel, and a “guaranteed” lifelong pension…just commit to a few years and you’ll be golden. It’s all part of the plan. You’ll sign up and one of three things will happen. The best case scenario will be that you stay enlisted for more than your initial commitment, go to college, learn a trade or profession, return to civilian life, and become a vital member of the workforce.

Or you can be sent overseas to represent the good ol’ U.S. of A. against some sort of threat and you come home in a wooden box with an American flag draped over it.

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Photo by Patrick Feller, used under Creative Commons Attribution, via Flickr

Or, you’ll survive or be wounded, and due to your experience, you’ll be honorably discharged and sent home where you’ll be yelled at for being a willing participant in the blatant murder of innocent people. You’ll spend the rest of your life wrestling with PTSD and the crushing guilt that you may have killed innocent people in the name of preventative measures to keep America’s freedoms intact. You probably won’t see your 50th birthday because the pain is too great and you’ll shoot yourself in the head because the government refused to give you proper health care. Or you’ll be holding a cardboard sign by the highway exit ramp asking for help because the government refused to provide you adequate housing and employment opportunities once you got back home. Because you weren’t supposed to make it home.

Now imagine you’re gay, bi, queer, or transsexual. The GOP continues to rail against your civil rights, waving a Bible at you and telling you that you’re unnatural, an abomination. You don’t deserve to have your relationship respected by the government. You shouldn’t even be respected as a person. And you have a large portion of fellow Americans that agree with the GOP. The conservative middle class turns its attention to making sure you can’t adopt a child or use the right bathroom for your gender. This allows the upper one percent to fleece those middle class bigots for as much money as they can while they receive support from them to continue to deny you your rights. You are a pawn of the wealthy, a perfect distraction to keep those votes and dollar bills rolling in for them.

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Courtesy of Patrick Feller, used under Creative Commons Attribution, via Flickr

Now imagine you’re an immigrant with a family, seeking refuge in America because your Central American country is ruled by a cruel dictator that prevents you from giving your family the life they deserve. You only have the clothes on your back and the few things you can carry, and when you arrive at the border to ask for help, you are met with rifles shoved in your faces. Your children are ripped from you and locked in cages where they barely receive any care and could be subject to abuses they never would’ve faced otherwise. Those rifle-carrying border patrol officers are ordered by their higher-ups to treat you like you’re sub-human. Hell, you’re not even American. And those guards obey because they have student loans to pay off or they owe the IRS six grand in back taxes because the GOP shifted the tax brackets.

Election Day is around the corner, and there will be millions of voters who find out that their registration has been purged and they won’t be allowed to vote. There’s a strong chance that those people are people of color, women, or Democrats. Republicans are so afraid of the one thing they truly cannot take from the middle class and the poor, their right to vote, that they are demanding voter registration audits to “weed out those who are voting illegally” (read: not Republican).

If it’s not clear to you now, Republicans want to deprive women of their reproductive rights in order to maximize the number of poor women having children who then seek to enlist in the military to ensure the steady stream of cannon fodder for their “efforts to eliminate terrorism.” They crush the middle class with tax increases to cause those who have some to lose it all, giving a little more power back to the rich. They rile up the middle class conservatives by drawing their attention to LGBTQ issues, promising to keep their children safe in the bathroom and maintain the sanctity of marriage in exchange for consistent votes all while taxing the hell out of them behind their backs. They also get those votes by making sure “dangerous illegals” are properly detained at the border. Those that are already here are arrested and shipped back to the country of their ethnic origin even though they are here legally, or were even born here. Finally, they audit voter records under the guise of voter fraud to purge those who threaten to vote them out of power.

This is the Republican plan, and it is all legal. And anything that isn’t legal, they’ll find a way to make legal. This is why Kavanaugh’s appointment will mean so much for this country for the foreseeable future. There is now a conservative-leaning Supreme Court that could bring up old cases like Roe v. Wade and overturn them, practically resetting legal precedent.

All of these tactics have been used by fascist governments throughout history. The wonderful thing about now is that we have history to look back on and notice the warning signs. We can put a stop to these atrocities and restore some humanity to the U.S. government. We need to vote. We need to protest. We need civil disobedience. And when the situations arise, we need to fight back. The GOP is playing dirty, and while it is noble to play by the rules so we look like the better people, there will come times when we’re going to have to play dirty as well. We have to be willing to make that call when it needs making, and not hold back.