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Why Do The Poor Overwhelmingly Support Democrats Who Abuse Them?



I believe this is a dynamic which exists–and a question which can be asked–all over the country, and among both major parties as I’ll describe below, but I want to start by localizing it to provide clear examples of what I’m suggesting and asking.

Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the majority of our elected officials at the city, county and state government are always Democrats because democrats vastly outnumber republican voters in this area, I’ve begun to wonder if there isn’t a battered-woman-like dynamic helping to keep the party support so high here.

It’s a fact that people who rent rather than own homes, people who frequent bars and people who smoke are all disproportionately poor, undereducated and single.

And at the same time in this region, the poor and undereducated are overwhelmingly registered democrats despite the fact that for years our democratic leaders have passed tax after tax and fee after fee that targets and hurts most… the very people who keep supporting them.

As an example, in the past year our city has begun charging landlords a $12 fee per rental unit they own, a fee that won’t ultimately come from the landlord’s pocket but rather will be passed down to the renters themselves.

Our county has added a 10% drink tax to alcoholic beverages (our normal sales tax on goods is 7%), and our state has increased the “sin tax” on tobacco products which raised prices by up to 25%.

The city justified their landlord registration fee with the argument that it will help to pinpoint and clean up “trouble spots” where landlords aren’t being held accountable for the condition of their properties or the behaviors of their renters.

That may be true to some degree, we won’t know for some time if it works in that way or not. What we do know right now is that it will add to the monthly rent of thousands of people who are fighting to just survive day to day, and it will cause more people with less than perfect credit from moving to, or staying in, the region as landlords feel they must become more strict on who they accept as renters to avoid further persecutions from the city.

In other words, whatever good the fees may do in the long term, there are serious harms that they are doing already. And disproportionately, those harms are visited upon the very same people who most often vote for the party candidates who are beating them over the heads.

A similar scenario exists with the county’s drink tax, which has been touted as the only alternative to an increase in property taxes for residents. Beyond the fact that it was a false proposition being made, how is it ever fair to target specific groups of people with taxes rather than applying them equally to all people?

The tax isn’t on all alcohol sold in the county, but only on “poured” drinks. Meaning drinks ordered in a bar. And who spends the most time socializing in bars? Young adults and poor people. Again, the very people who vote for them are being targeted with unfair taxes and fees by politicians… yet people keep supporting them over and over.

The state taxes on tobacco products… more of the same. Once again, the people most likely to use tobacco products are living near or below the poverty line, are undereducated, single or under 30 years of age. And in this region, those are all groups that vote heavily towards the democrat party–the very party that keeps targeting and unfairly taxing them further down the economic ladder.

These are only 3 recent instances, there are more which further and unfairly target the poor, undereducated and elderly. I’m not listing all of them because my point isn’t to fight individual taxes or fees, or to argue whether specific revenues are needed or not. Though I will add that I believe any non-blanket tax which targets specific groups seems unconstitutional to me.

But my point, or rather it’s more of a question, is why do the people in my region who are being targeted the most by Democrats in power continue to support and put Democrats in power? I include myself in this.

Is it the same in other regions? Is it unique to Democrats, or do republican heavy regions see a similar beating from the Republicans they continue putting in office as well? My guess is that this isn’t specific to my part of the country, and that it happens across party lines too.

I know at the federal level Republicans had the opportunity to truly advance the conservative and religious right agendas from 2000 through 2006, yet they failed to do anything meaningful with either, so it seems safe to assume both parties are guilty of biting the hands that feed them.

When I reflect on my own voting choices I think there is a combination of factors, from opposing far right ideologies to simply being willing to overlook the continued beatings from my own party that have culminated in my ongoing support for people that I believe unfairly target select groups for oppression.

Every election cycle they apologize for having to “hurt” some people and then they blame the “other side” for blocking them from doing the things that need done or acting in the ways we believe they should, and we accept it.

We take the beatings, then tell ourselves “well, he said he was sorry and that he’s going to change”… and we keep supporting the same people time after time.

Is it a broken system because there aren’t viable alternatives to the 2 major parties in most regions?

Is it fair to be mad at the politicians who keep doing it, or should we be mad at ourselves for letting them get away with it over and over?

Am I the only one who feels like a dog that’s been beat too much?

Image Credit: Source reurinkjan of Flickr

Technorati Tags: Democrats, targeting, taxes

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