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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/20/11

The Republican Hate Narrative Against Public Employees and Unions

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To them, those of us who aren't rich are little more than the shiftless hobos of yore and the so-labeled "lazy" unemployed of now, and like all those old leftists with their empty cups held out for a free pour, we are dependent on the public trough not just for our livelihoods, but for our very lives.   In their Emerald City estimation, if we really had a brain, really believed in capitalism and weren't entirely lazy and/or lame, we would start our own small business, work hard, and become rich.   Just click our heels!  

I mean, how many speeches from the right have you heard extolling the virtues of small business owners?   Every small business owner a King!  

That's not true, of course.   Small businesses also fail.   Small business owners are not universally successful.   Nor are they even "small."   See this report from Media Matters for details of how rich Republicans and their Fox media mouthpiece spin it.   You will learn that "small business" is a term that means whatever they want it to mean, from wealthy solo authors of novels to large corporations.   Essentially, it is everyone who isn't a public employee or a member of a union.

But "the successful small business" is part of the overall rich Republican narrative.   It is the story they tell to cut off the small business owner from other workers, a story that elevates the former to the detriment of the latter.   Like the previous appropriations "Joe the plumber," and before that of "Joe six-pack," or before him "The silent majority," rich Republicans are very good at sustaining the illusion of being all for the small guy, who no doubt lives in a small town somewhere in an wholly imagined evangelical Christian Midwest and who, in today's mediated surround, listens reverently to Rush and Glenn, watches Fox, and thinks when Sarah wears that red dress she is really something special.

But is that what most Americans believe?   Or is it part of the Big Lie that has been so often repeated that we are afraid to contradict it?   Put simply, do most of us working people really want the same things, the same budget cuts, that rich Republicans say we want?

According to a new Pew Center study, the answer is no.   According to an analysis of that report by Bob Cesca: 

"62 percent of Americans want to increase education spending. Only 11 percent want to cut education spending. Combined with those who want to leave education spending as-is, 87 percent support it. This massive disparity plays out all across the board. 71 percent of Americans want to increase or to continue health care spending at the same levels. Only 24 percent want to cut it. Only 26 percent want to cut spending on environmental protection. I can go on and on. Only 12 percent want to cut Social Security. Only 21 percent want to cut infrastructure. Only 23 percent want to cut scientific research. Only 28 percent want to cut unemployment benefits.   Most of us embrace government spending, but we're afraid to admit it."

The rich Republicans are liars.   Spending cuts aren't what we want.   It is what they want.

The final element of the rich Republican narrative against public employees targets public colleges and public college professors.   People like me.   We are, they say, dangerous people.   We are "elites."   We teach the young to challenge authority and to think critically for themselves.   We promote a liberal agenda that includes equality for everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, class, or sexual orientation.   They detest us.   They ask: outside of business and engineering schools, what do we produce that actually is designed to make money?   What good do we do?   When was the last time anyone needed a "perfessor" to answer any question they cared to ask?   When was the last time those socialists in English departments taught the Holy Bible?   And in Arizona, where I work, we have legislators who openly question why we are paying for something called "justice studies" or "women's studies" or "Latino/Latina studies," much less underwriting the tuition of illegal immigrants, single mothers, and the poor?

The audacity of these claims is exasperating.   But that is not the real problem.   As is the case with most elements of the rich Republican narrative, all the blather and foam is a deflection from what we should be paying attention to.   And that is the Big Irony at the very heart of their hate narrative.

And what is that irony?   It is only this:   the Big Irony is that the rich aren't the ones paying the taxes that support public employees, or union workers, or for the measures that promote the public good.   The Republican rich have successfully transferred fiscal responsibility for everything from the wars they started for profit to the schools they wish would go away, to the already burdened backs of what's left of the dwindling middle class and what is fast becoming the swollen ranks of the working poor.

That is the final insult and one that I hope all of us take personally.   Unless we do take it personally, and vow to do something about it, we are the dupes, the rubes, the fools they want us to be.   After all, their narrative of hate is a fat wad of spittle aimed squarely at our faces.  

It is evident in the embodied attitude and the very real behavior of the rich Republicans toward everyone else, as evidenced by the huge cash reserves of corporations that do not create jobs and the "business as usual" attitude of Wall Street and the banks that do nothing to reverse the home mortgage crisis.   It is the collective "f*ck you!" in every vote launched by rich Republican politicians against the best interests of our country.   It is the old story of a ruling plutocracy that we thought would never be tolerated in these United States.   But we have.   And so it is.

Normally I don't rant.   I'm more of a reasoned argument sort of guy.   But thirty years of Republican propaganda has brainwashed too many people into believing that government is always bad, taxes are always bad, and regulations are always bad is unlikely to be turned around using cool reason alone.

You can't reason with people who hate you.

What we can do is rise up and take back what we all have worked so long and so hard as loyal Americans to achieve.   For the protesters in Madison, and for all of the protesters that will likely be forced into the streets in the coming months, I pledge my support.   I want you to join with me in pledging your support.   Moving our bodies into the streets, into the newspapers, into the meetings where decisions are being made.   Acting, rather than watching others act for us on television.

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H. L. (Bud) Goodall, Jr. lives in Arizona where he is a college professor and writer. He has published 20 books and many articles and chapters on a variety of communication issues. His most recent books include Counter-Narrative: How Progressive (more...)
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