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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Family Values: Proud that Working People Can't Make Ends Meet

Family Values: Proud that Working People Can't Make Ends Meet
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

Conservative Christians and Republicans use the rhetoric of "family values" quite often even though it is a term with no definitive meaning. Voters can invest it with whatever content they want and thereby imagine that the politician is on their side. If we want to know what Republicans think of the term, we should look to what they do and even say in other contexts. How do they give substance of the concept of "family values" and what do they really value themselves?

Everyone can see that America is heading into serious economic trouble which will negatively affect most American families. How do Republicans think that those families can be helped weather the consequences of years of Republican mismanagement, corruption, and lies? By giving even more tax breaks to wealthy corporations! This might sound crazy, but apparently Republicans think that economic hardship is good for families — and even welcomed by them.

This at least was the message from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) when she said "I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs." That's right, people who can't get by unless they work a lot of extra hours or even take on a second job are living the American dream — which for them must seem like a nightmare, but it helps provide more money for people like Bachmann, so I guess it's still a dream for her.

In case anyone is tempted to think that this is just an isolated statement, President George W. Bush himself told a divorced mother of three on Feb. 4, 2005: "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that." I'll bet he thinks it's fantastic that single parents have to work multiple jobs in order to provide food and housing to their families — that means lower costs for corporations which in turn provide so many political contributions to Republicans like Bush.

It's also likely that at least some Republicans think that the hardships suffered by working and middle-class Americans really isn't all that hard. This would explain why Bill O'Reilly doesn't believe that there are so many homeless veterans on America's streets. If people want for food, housing, or health care, it must be because they are unwilling to work for it all. Those working several jobs just to survive are "heroes" because they don't expect the government to provide for the people's well-being. That would be socialism.

People who work too many jobs and hours to eat right, spend time with their families, or even take a vacation are heroes of the corporate state. Corporate executives and their paid political whores who do have health insurance, who do take long vacations, and who spend as much time with family as they want will toast those heroes with champaign at the next Republican convention. The next day, candidates and pundits will promise to protect the same heroes' "interests" by continuing the culture wars against real equality for anyone who isn't white, male, heterosexual, and Christian.

Knowing that your kids can pray in school, even in context of aggressive proselytization, makes it easier to send them to bed hungry. Knowing that your kids won't be told the truth about birth control makes it easier to send them to school sick because you can't afford to take time off to care for them and you don't have health insurance anyway. Knowing that gays can be fired for any reason or no reason must make it easier to work longer hours for less money than your parents or grandparents.

I'm sure it's all just a coincidence that having to work harder and longer while losing ground and never having time for leisure activities is one way to prevent people from having the time or energy to take too close a look at their government or asking too many questions of their politicians. Granted, European countries manage to have democratic governments while providing schooling, health insurance, and plenty of vacation time, but they are all socialists and their economies will collapse any day now. Yup, it's coming. Any day. Just you wait.

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