This is one of the times I am grateful for a backlog of worthy Comments of the Day. I have several posts pending requiring a lot of thought, research and writing, and I’m exhausted as well as swamped. It’s nice to have some excellent ethics commentary from the regulars here to keep new content flowing. I am very grateful to all of the authors.
This time it’s Still Spartan, a mother, a lawyer, a self-described liberal (though on today’s spectrum I’d call her a left of center moderate) with an interesting back-story. In fairness, I should note that she protested later that if she knew this would be a COTD she would have been more circumspect regarding her choice of words. With the exception of “sucks,” which I believe now is an acceptable rhetorical device for emphasis (though my father would still object if I used it), I made some minor edits to address those concerns. I hope she approves.
As is often the case here, this Comment of the Day came out of a thread inspired by the post but pretty much irrelevant to it. Although the post concerned the gratuitous vulgarity of an anti-NRA House candidate, much of the discussion was about illegal immigration, or as it’s known around the Marshall house, The Amazing Controversy For Which There Is No Logical Or Defensible Justification For The Pro- Position, But That Roils Politics Anyway (TACFWTINLODJFTPPBTRPA, for short). Another prolific commenter, Slickwilly, had written in part this response to a comment defending illegal immigrants and discarding claims that they are a burden on citizens,
I have been poor… I worked my way up just a bit, but still sit in the lower middle class, if not the upper poor….I STILL pay taxes, and the illegals suck that money down. While the legal poor may sometimes use those tactics, it is NOT the norm, as THEY HAVE ROOTS HERE. You know, like family, friends, jobs, or at a minimum welfare payments. All of those make it harder to just up and leave, especially in this day and age of computer tracking. Illegal Aliens have none of those ties. I have lived with them my entire life, and know more on a bad day than you ever will. Most are good people, if you ignore that they are criminals. They run up bills and change addresses, change names, change jobs, as a matter of course. They do not pay any type of insurance. They cause car wrecks and abandon the scene, running to Mexico until the heat is off. They clog emergency rooms with minor, minor ailments, BECAUSE IT IS FREE. They steal identities causing citizens hundreds of miles away tax problems, when they bother to pay taxes at all (and those that hire them should be in jail).
Here is Still Spartan’s response to that comment, and her Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Quote Of The Month: New Mexico Congressional Candidate Pat Davis (Guess What Party!)”:
Actually, I think Slick’s comment is indicative of many people’s thinking right now (and I am not writing this with any snark at all). We have a large population of white, rural, poor people in this country. And it sucks. I was one of those people. Good jobs have become scarce, especially with blue collar jobs virtually disappearing overseas. And the jobs that are left don’t pay the bills. These people also don’t have the money to move elsewhere — or tend to not have the education needed to get a good paying job in the information age anyway.
Now, we have poor black populations and poor Latino populations as well of course, but what makes the white rural poor unique is that they tend to be isolated in the country and do not have the freedom of movement that predominantly urban poor have. The white rural poor do still have some advantages: 1) they are white (so they don’t face discrimination); 2) food scarcity isn’t as big of a problem. Many supplement with gardens, hunting, and even farms if they have the space; 3) because people are spread out, crime isn’t as big of a problem. But these people still want jobs. And they see, for the most part, that they are struggling even more than their parents did. It is scary. Liberals are not doing enough to appeal to them.
Now, I personally do think that liberal policies protect the poor more than Republican ones do, but we do a terrible job of communicating it. And, while I do believe in the liberal message when it comes to rights for minorities, women, better health coverage for all, etc., this is not what the poor want to talk about — or at least they are ranked lower on their priority list. They want jobs. Trump — even though he is a ethics-free con man — made that his message. Why are the jobs gone? Why can’t they send their kids to college? Why are their communities being destroyed by the opioid epidemic? (By the way, this is no different than the crack epidemic that hit the black poor, but this is the first time that it has hit white communities hard.) And then for some, he also played into the fear that they are paying more because of illegals. Of course, we as a society are paying (although not as much as Republicans claim) for illegals, but the truth is that it isn’t the rural poor who are shouldering this burden, because their taxes overall are pretty low. It is the upper middle class and the wealthy who are paying more because of them. (Although proportionately it hits the upper middle class the hardest.) But this message resonates with the rural poor the most, because they live in predominately white communities and they are suffering economically.
I did not have a lot of options when I graduated high school. My family had no money and I had to work. Luckily I was smart, white (and arguably pretty), so I was able to elevate myself with the benefit of a ton of school loans. Now, I can completely pass as a member of the upper middle class, and few of my friends know that I used to raise pigs and was a livestock judging champion in my state. Ninety percent of the kids from my hometown were not as lucky, and now that the blue collar jobs are gone, they are scraping by to pay their bills. Liberals need to do a better job reaching out to them. First, it is the right thing to do. Second, on a more practical level, they vote. Unless we scrap the electoral college (and I don’t see that happening), every national election is going to be a nail-biter.