The question of why poor people vote Republican is not simply an issue of income but primarily race and partly region and gender. Poor people may be more likely to vote Democrat; poor white people are not ~ Gary Younge writting for The Guardian in a 10/29/2012 article, "Working class voters: why America's poor are willing to vote Republican".
The following is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 3/13/2012, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Have Right to Work laws made people in the Southern states stupid? Thom answers a caller's question.
Caller: I was wondering, what divides us intellectually from Mississippi and Alabama? Why are those states deemed as being the "stupid states"?
Thom: A lot of it has to do with the history of labor. During the industrialization of the United States, in the 1920s through the 40s... The Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act or NLRA) was passed in 1935 and Union shops started, and the South started unionizing just like the North did. Although most of the industrial activity was still in the North. The South was still largely agricultural, although there was a lot of textile work going on in the south... a lot of clothing being made. And people were forming unions.
Then, in 1946 the Republicans took both the House and Senate for the first time since the crash of 1929. They only held the House for 2 years... they lost the House for over 30 years - they didn't get it back until the year Newt swept the House in 1994. So, during that 2 years they did a lot of damage.
Harry Truman proposed a bill that would give everyone in American free health care. It was Medicare Part E, basically... they shot that down. They then passed a bill called the Taft-Hartley Act (Labor–Management Relations Act) which said that individual states could opt out of the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act [Congress overrode Truman's veto]. If a majority of people in a workplace voted for a union, that was fine, but not everybody had to participate in that union. Which basically makes it real easy for employers to bust unions, and radically reduces the benefits, both to the union and the union employees, of having a union.
The Southern states were the first to jump on this bandwagon and they all became right-to-work-for-less states, very, very quickly. And so, since the 40s they've had lower wages... in the average right-to-work-for-less state people make 5 thousand dollars a year less than they do in a free bargaining state. They are also twice as likely to die on the job.
Now we're almost 3 generations away from this, and I would say that's the largest single reason. Because there was less [tax] revenue [because workers were earning less], there was less money for education and people were stuck in cyclical poverty. It's a genuine tragedy.
|END Thom Hartman Program excerpt. If you are a subscriber to the Thom Hartmann program podcast, the location of this segment of audio can be found at 17:50 to 21:21 of Hour 2 on Tuesday March 13, 2012.|
Keeping wages low for average workers is ABSOLUTELY the reason why the south is essentially a solid, grim block of poverty. I say this in agreement with a recent post on the excellent blog "Progressive Eruptions", a blog where the proprietor, Shaw Kenawe pointed out the following...
|...the south is a solid bloc of conservative voting. This is what southern conservative leaders have done for the citizens who vote against their best interests by keeping those conservatives in office. And here is the result of their failed conservative policies. Nothing but misery has "trickled down" to these southern states. (H/T to Progressive Eruptions. Posted on 7/3/2014 at 7:25am).|
And why is the South solidly Republican? The answer is slavery and the Civil Rights legislation signed by LBJ in 1964, previous to which it was the Democratic Party that supported Slavery and racism. But that all changed when Democrats flipped to support to equality and Republicans (several years later) took up the mantle of White racism in order to win the South.
|Wikipedia, Solid South: ...beginning in the 1960s, Southern support for the Democratic Party started to decline given its national leaders' support of the civil rights movement, including school integration. The Republican Party began to make new gains in the South, building on other cultural conflicts as well. |
In 1968, President Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy is credited with allowing either the Republicans or Southern Democrat George Wallace's independent campaign to keep much of the South out of the Democratic column at the presidential level.
The South continued to send an overwhelmingly Democratic delegation to Congress until the Republican Revolution of 1994. Today, the South is considered a Republican stronghold at all levels above the local level, with Republicans holding majorities in every state except Arkansas and Kentucky after 2010. Political experts have often cited a southernization of politics following the fall of the Solid South.
The South's history of slavery and racism and Republican Party's desire to pander to these voters is why the South is today solidly for the GOP. And the South is poorer than the rest of the nation due to the Republican Party being the party of the wealthy and big business...
|From a business perspective... the loyalties of the parties did not really switch. ...the Republicans remain, throughout, the party of bigger businesses; it's just that in the earlier era bigger businesses want bigger government and in the later era they don't. ...earlier on, businesses needed things that only a bigger government could provide, such as infrastructure development, a currency and tariffs. Once these things were in place, a small, hands-off government became better for business. (excerpt from a 6/14/2014 post from the Soadhead blog "Why Did the Democratic and Republican Parties Switch Platforms". Authorship attributed to "Sharon" with quotations from Eric Rauchway, a professor of American history at the University of California, Davis).|
So, the flipped platforms referred to in blog excerpt above is in reference to support for Big Government. The Republicans used to support Big Government and now they do not. But they obviously ALSO flipped on the issue of support for African Americans, going from supporting ending slavery to opposing equality/civil rights legislation.
And this is the same Republican Party that began as a reform party that initially opposed slavery. But the priority of pandering to the wealthy won out and the decision was made (by Nixon) that the racist White vote was needed in order to win elections, which is why the Republicans and Democrats flipped positions on the issue of racism; after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Legislation of 1964 the GOP became the new home for America's racists.
And the South is decidedly poorer and dumber as a result. Poorer because big business does not want to pay as low of a wage as possible to workers, and with Republicans in control, they get what they want (Right-to-work legislation). Dumber because, as research has shown, poverty makes people less intelligent.
Image Description: This map shows U.S. poverty rates, which are highest in the south. Red-shaded states indicate poverty rates between 17.9 and 22.8 percent. Orange is 15,9-17.8 percent. Light orange indicates 12.2-15.8 percent, and yellow indicates 9-12.1 percent (source: These Nine Maps Show How The GOP is Destroying Southern States by John Prager from Americans Against The Tea Party, 3/6/2014).