Argue with a conservative long enough and you will inevitably hear one of their favorite talking points: Liberals just want free handouts and should get a job. The insinuation of course is that only conservatives know anything about hard work and earning a living. You'll be shocked to know that it's complete bullshit.
Here's a nifty graphic I came across that shows where most of America's wealth is generated. If you listen to conservatives, they're the ones that have all the jobs and make all the money. We liberals are just leeches that sit at home collecting welfare. But that's not what the math says:
Curiously, America's money is mostly generated by those snobby elite latte-sipping liberal cities on the coast. Even filthy crime-ridden failing Chicago and Detroit somehow generate more wealth than most of what conservatives consider to be the "real" America (you know, the really white parts in the middle). Even in red states like Texas and Georgia, it's the liberal cities of Atlanta, Houston and Dallas that account for most of those states' GDP.
But wait, it gets worse for this particular talking point. If you break down the divide between entire counties that voted for Trump versus those that voted for Clinton, you find that Trump won in 2623 counties and Hillary in only 489. Seeing those numbers, you'd be tempted to think that conservatives must be the ones generating all of the country's wealth. They outnumber those lazy libs by almost 4-1!
But here's how it looks when you split those counties by vote and then compare them by GDP output:
That would be 64% Clinton, 36% Trump. Large population centers produce America's wealth while small ones seem to produce little more than bigots that support fascism. It's not a pleasant reality to face but there it is. Of course, when you're a conservative, you never have to confront this reality. You can hide inside the Fox News bubble that will tell you the same comforting lies over and over: You are the beating heart of America and liberals just want you to pay for all their free stuff.
It's easy enough to understand where this skewed view of reality comes from. Liberals tend to agitate for universal, or "free", healthcare so people don't go bankrupt when they break their leg or develop cancer. They also tend to agitate for little things like making sure everyone has food, clothes, and a roof over their head and we don't care if they can afford it or not. Damn liberals and their pesky need to treat people like humans instead of wild animals...
We also have an annoying habit of demanding that we be able to retire like the Baby Boomers are doing instead of working until we fall over dead. And on top of all that, Bernie Sanders went ahead and reminded the country that, hey, the Boomers all got to go to college for almost free. Why can't Millennials and the next generation have that, too?
So, from a painfully myopic view, liberals do want free stuff. You just have to ignore the fact that our taxes (generated mostly in our liberal cities) would be paying for it so it's no more free than Medicare and Social Security.
But there's also the racist component to this particular talking point (that might just be true with every right wing talking point). Once upon a time, social welfare was quite popular among American whites. They loved the idea that if they fell on hard times, their government would provide a safety net until they could get back on their feet. But then blacks came along and insisted that, also being American citizens that pay taxes, they should get the same benefits as white folks. That did not sit well with future Trump voters and their decedents.
Over the following decades, white people stopping looking at social welfare as a safety net and started seeing it as a hammock for lazy Negroes. Sure, white people still used the system all the time but they deserved the help and Those People were just moochers. Oh, and Those People account for most of the money being spent. It's a worldview completely cut off from reality but it appeals to the racial resentment of whites. It doesn't matter how often you explain to them that by almost two to one, more white are on welfare than blacks, they know what they "know." Blacks are lazy and living off of white people's tax money.
Yet, the majority of welfare in its various forms is consumed by whites and those whites live in mostly deep red states. The numbers are inescapable: More whites are on welfare and they're conservative whites.
So not only is the "liberals are on welfare" talking point wrong, it's astonishingly wrong on every conceivable level. Liberals literally pay for the welfare that conservatives deride at every opportunity.
At this point, it's almost inconceivable that we can change the minds of conservatives. They're far too invested in the lie of white supremacy and black laziness. It allows them to be cruel and punish minorities even as they hurt themselves. But that doesn't mean we have to humor them or craft our policies to accommodate their bullshit. Bill Clinton did this in the 90s with welfare reform designed to please racist conservatives. That has to end. It's popular among certain segments of the Beltway media that we should be trying to work together to fix the country's problems but that cannot be done when conservatives willfully live in an alternate reality in which whites are the victims and not the centuries-long beneficiaries of a rigged system.
We're at the point where right wing bullshit has crippled entire communities for no other reason than to make petty white people feel better about their small lives. We have to stop treat these angry and ignorant bigots as equals and start treating them like children: Send them to the sandbox to stamp their feet and hold their breath until they grow up. When they reject the hatred and lies, they can join us at the adult table and really make America great again for everyone, not just the privileged few.
There are 605 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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