The Republican Party is an assemblage of dicks, cucks, slimeballs and losers. But they still win elections, thanks to decades of misleading messaging in a few key areas. Of these, the appeal to voters’ wallets is remarkably consistent: What’s good for the stock market is good for your bank account, and if you put the Democrats in power, they’ll take a bigger slice of every paycheck. Let companies and the executive class profit, and money will trickle down to you.
These lies are the only explanation for the GOP-boosters who have no fortunes to protect:
Fear-mongering about higher taxes is effective. For one thing, people want to keep what they’ve earned — and are either confused or angry as to what the government would spend it on. Then there are the complexities of the tax code itself… very boring! As soon as you have two candidates rattling off numbers and percentages at each other in a debate, almost any rational person will want to tune the hell out. It hardly matters that Joe Biden is promising what, on paper, should be simple common sense: higher taxes on businesses and individuals earning $400,000 annually, plus “a package of incentives aimed at cutting taxes for lower-income taxpayers, including refundable credits for everything from paying childcare costs to buying a home,” as Forbes puts it. Unless an Outback Steakhouse hostess is seriously raking in tips, she only stands to gain under this administration, yet the dread of being skimmed is too great.
This aligns with John Steinbeck’s infamous description of poorer Americans as “temporarily embarrassed capitalists.” (A frequent misquote substitutes the word “millionaires.”) That is, the working class still believe they are destined to be rich, and will want to protect future assets at the expense of current funds. How do we break everyone out of this mindset? Obviously, graphs and data only go so far.
So, send in the memes:
Do I think these posts swung the election for Biden?
I wouldn’t go that far. But they present an intriguing, organic form of counterattack to Republican untruths on tax policy — every talking point crafted to make minimum wage workers believe that greedy Dems are going to pick them up by the ankles and shake out any loose change. It’s always painful when the party or a campaign tries to force a meme (remember Hillary Clinton asking you to relate how student loan debt made you feel in three emojis?), and here you see how effective a genuinely grassroots form of online political analysis can be. Look around you, and look at your life. You are not wealthy. Why vote like you are? The reality of a frugal diet, popcorn ceilings and mooching off someone’s Netflix account ought to pierce the fog of GOP scare tactics. It’s time to face your material conditions.
There’s an added value, too, in recognizing one another’s economic status, which is the necessary first step to building class consciousness and solidarity. A stream of knowing references and recognizable images — all the signifiers of merely “getting by” in America — might steer you toward the realization that most conservatives in Congress (let alone a supposed billionaire like Trump) have no idea what it’s like to live in a crummy studio apartment, drive a car that always breaks down and put in long hours at a menial job with zero benefits. They are only allies of the poor through rhetoric, not empathy and certainly not action. Raising the specter of financial ruin is how they distract us from the precariousness of our current state.
The gut-check that comes with acknowledging your modest circumstances could make you more fiercely protective of what little you own — or it could be a helpful reminder that you don’t have much for Biden and the Democrats to loot. It’s always going to be direct and visceral in comparison to the wonk math, which many of us struggle to translate into outcomes. By saying, in effect, “Wait, we’re not millionaires,” you release the population from the tired old argument in a way that leaves the GOP to explain why taxing the ultra-rich is bad for anyone else.
And guess what? It isn’t! Unfortunate that this stuff is sometimes difficult to get across on the debate stage, but nice that ordinary people on social media can cut to the heart of the issue with humor and discernment. Americans aren’t stupid. We just need the right jokes to understand.