Watch what we do, not what we say — John Mitchell, Nixon’s first Attorney General, 1969
How does Tom fool right-leaning voters? By telling them what they want to hear. However, his words usually don’t match his actions.
- He promises to lower taxes, ours and his own, but he would cut our benefits, not his, to pay for it.
- He promises to protect privacy, but votes to allow continued surveillance.
- He promises to create jobs, but votes for “jobs bills,” which only rescind regulations.
- He says government spending is a problem, but votes in favor of appropriation bills with increases.
Voters need to pay attention to what Tom does rather than what he says, which is often a fairy tale. Tom claims to be conservative, but his voting record as evaluated by Heritage Action is closer to Nancy Pelosi’s than to many rightwing Republicans’, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s, for example.
How do right leaning voters fool themselves? First, by taking Tom’s words and supposed conservative beliefs at face value. When talking about the Constitution, Tom is usually either pandering to gun nuts, discussing matters not before Congress such as the NYS SAFE Act, or attacking the President. When he votes to authorize warrantless domestic spying contrary to the Fourth Amendment, Tom shows his disregard for the Constitution. When he votes to hinder the President’s exercise of his Constitutional responsibility to grant pardons as he recently did, his actions reflect base partisanship rather than respect for the Constitution.
Second, right leaning voters fool themselves by believing their own propaganda–conservatives say they favor limited government, respect of the Constitution, capitalism and free enterprise and personal responsibility, but these are euphemisms, high sounding ideals that mask economic insecurity. Real concerns of right-leaning voters are long-standing worries about race, religion, and welfare–the idea that others might prosper with government assistance while they struggle with low wage jobs and unemployment.
- The real worry of nativists is that immigrants might work for low wages, vote for Democrats or speak Spanish.
- The real worry of some demanding budget cuts is they might not be able to pay their own bills.
- A common concern is that a person of a different race, religion, or ethnic background might be doing better than oneself.
Left and right alike ought to remember that Tom’s rhetoric often fails to match his record and that his explanations are invariably one-sided, half-truths at best, designed to fool us, to divide us to save his cushy job.
© William Hungerford – June 2014