I learned some scary things about the far right-wing of the Republican Party Tuesday. Ironically enough, the source was anything but scary to the naked eye. She was a bright senior citizen and dedicated Christian with a penchant for witnessing.
We were poll workers together where virtually nobody, maybe five percent or so, of the precinct’s registered voters, showed up to vote in an off-season minor local election. Just the two of us. There were supposed to be three, but the third helper couldn’t make it. So there were two of us, and a few voters. That’s nearly 16 hours at the polling place counting opening and closing.
Two workers sitting with three voting booths, a few tables and chairs, a small kitchen and the remainder an empty space most of the time. The talk was bound to get around to politics. When there are voters present, you don’t talk politics in the polling place. Not with the voters; not among the workers.
But when it’s just the two workers, you can fire away. And we did. It started innocently enough. The lady told of raising a family by the tenants of the bible. She emphasized that her children would make their own choices as they entered adulthood. If these were wrong choices, they wouldn’t be welcomed back to the home. Ever! Or at least until they got their act together.
It was clear at this point that once we dipped into politics, it would be a conversation between a progressive and an ultra-conservative Christian Republican whose every move and thought was dictated by the bible. That’s why I was stunned when she turned out to be a rabid and unapologetic supporter of (drum roll please), Donald Trump. Yes, Donald Trump. Her reasoning was that he was extraordinarily well informed and was deeply knowledgeable and thoroughly researched on the issues and facts when he opened his mouth on the campaign trail and in debates with his fellow candidates for the Republican nomination for president. I asked her to recite one fact from Trump that would prove such a contention. She couldn’t.
Trump (or whomever) has just written a silly tome, somewhere in length between a short story and novella, entitled “Crippled America.” Just how silly is made obvious by the folks at Gawker.
Her strongest issue connection with her political hero was immigration, or more accurately, walled-out “immigration.” She loved the fact that Trump would keep immigrants in their place. And, for the most part, that place was Mexico. There’s always room for a millionaire PhD or two, or other near-perfect Mexicans seeking U.S. citizenship, but that’s it for Trump. In his mind (and I assume his supporters) all other Mexicans are drug-runners, or rapists, or champions of any number of other criminal endeavors. Even the most cursory research would prove Trump dead wrong. That doesn’t seem to remotely deter the adoration of the likes of my poll-mate.
Next on her Trump bandwagon platform is that horrible Obamacare, as she calls it. I gently corrected her and told her the name of the legislation is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” She piped up that the name Obamacare originated with Obama, himself. While the president has kidded about and made fun of the term, he was not within a parallel universe of giving birth to what I consider an intentionally insulting and disrespectful reference to the Affordable Care Act and the president. Our friends at Daily Kos have an excellent take on the Republican use and manipulative intent of the title, “Obamacare.”
My poll colleague pointed out that insurance premiums had reached the stage for many as being beyond their means. I asked her who sets those premiums. She correctly replied “the insurance companies:, but added “Obamacare” made the obscene rate hikes possible. Interestingly enough, a Morgan Stanley survey indicated that since 2014, premium prices for Small Group Markets have increased by 29 percent in one state, 34 percent in another, 37 and even 66 percent in two additional states. One state was way above the latter level, but too few businesses had been surveyed.
However, my election colleague does have a point, and then again, she doesn’t. When ACA was in its infancy, the president was a huge supporter of the “public option”, both as a candidate and after his elevation to the oval office. The public option was a government-run, reasonably priced competitor to the giant insurance interests that, pre-ACA, had never failed to increase their premiums by double-digits yearly. In one study, small business cited insurance premiums as being the most troublesome part of staying viable.
Then along came intensive lobbying pressure in the house and senate and who knows what approach was taken in the White House, because Obama had cooled considerably to the public option in a matter of months. In a show of real civic heroism, then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, held off the pockets-full-of-money-lobbyists in the house. the senate was quite another story. They had found their stooge in Senator Joe Lieberman, who masqueraded as a Connecticut Democrat only to be responsible for the demise of the public option, giving away the premium farm to the giant insurers. He managed to destroy one of the core benefits of the bill in refusing to vote for it if it included the public option.
Greasing Lieberman “campaign” pockets for over a half-million dollars over the years had paid off in a move that would subsequently be worth billions to the insurance industry. Lieberman sold out his constituency for the giant insurance cabal that runs his home state. Lieberman left the senate in 2012 before he could do further harm. He’s now an independent.
Even with no public option, imagine what the insurance tabs would be without ACA. There’s a special for employees earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level and other health care sugar in the ACA if any Republicans would bother to read it.
Last, and most certainly not least, my new Republican friend said she gets really angry at the “poor” folks who are gaming the system. She saw a food-stamper hop into a BMW for instance. The gamers are allegedly people capable of loading boxcars for 20 hours a day and digging 10 foundations by hand, but dammit, you can’t get them to even apply for work. She also ripped into people with addictions. “They could stop if they wanted to.” And then there were the homeless. A worthless collection of drunks who ask for money for food, but the far-right knows full well the coin is NEVER for food, but just more booze. I pointed out to her that over half of these unfortunates are war veterans, many suffering from PTSD. It was the first time I saw her slightly back off her position.
Otherwise, if she’s convinced somebody is capable of working (even those who have applied for dozens of jobs and never heard another word), they don’t deserve welfare, food stamps or any thing else smelling of taxpayer help.
You won’t change her mind. Bombast, Fox News (she’s an enthusiastic viewer) and the bible, have locked in her petty prejudices. You will NOT change an ultra-conservatives mind. Don’t waste your time.
Oh, and she hates gays. Go figure!
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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