North Texas Daily

Conflating progressivism with elitism is Republican recruitment tactic

Conflating progressivism with elitism is Republican recruitment tactic

Conflating progressivism with elitism is Republican recruitment tactic
September 08
10:37 2020

Over the past four years, I have heard many people wonder aloud what led to so many American citizens embracing Trump’s bigoted rhetoric without question. The relatively obvious answer is that these individuals felt Trump validated prejudices they had already internalized, but then, how did they acquire those prejudices in the first place? There is no shortage of correct answers, but one I almost never hear brought up is the conservative recruitment tactic of associating historically marginalized demographics with elitism.

There are many overlapping narratives peddled by the conservative movement that promotes the idea that minorities and liberal voters, rather than one-percenters and politicians, are responsible for the plight of working-class whites. The racist trope of the “welfare queen,” a Black woman who habitually abuses the welfare system, was often employed by the Reagan administration as a means of pushing his agenda to cut unemployment benefits.

Anti-Semites regularly trot out conspiracy theories about Jewish billionaires puppeteering government representatives, and racists often misrepresent the concept of reparations as an attack on working whites. Even the stereotyping of women and LGBTQ men as vain and materialistic could arguably be utilized to frame these particular demographics as agents of the corrupt elite.

None of these widely circulated cliches have any basis in fact or any reason for being perpetuated beyond providing the Republican party with a convenient excuse to persecute minorities while simultaneously diverting attention away from the harmful effects their own policies have on the working class. It’s easier for voters to act on their deeply ingrained prejudices than to believe that they will never be able to work their way up the ladder because the odds have been deliberately stacked against them.

The National Rifle Association, which has aligned itself with numerous Republican politicians, including Donald Trump, is now in jeopardy of being dissolved because CEO Wayne LaPierre spent donation money on personal expenses, including a $6 million mansion. Yet NRA membership is commonly perceived as a staple of the white working class, and the president himself is a billionaire whose base consists primarily of people whose disenfranchisement is essential for ensuring the continued existence of all billionaires.

Contrary to conservative beliefs, the same policies implemented to prevent minorities from escaping poverty have that same impact on working whites, who are essentially voting against their own best interests if they vote Republican.

That’s not to say that Democrats don’t also actively promote the misconception that progressiveness is somehow equivalent to elitism. The narrative benefits them too, in that it presents Republican voters as simple-minded hicks and Democratic voters as open-minded intellectuals, thus attracting more Democratic voters and enabling said voters to deny the existence of their own internalized prejudices.

Democratic politicians whose primary platform seems to consist entirely of stressing the importance of compromise are also profiting off of those they claim to represent. Notorious moderate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg is a moderate because he’s a billionaire and vice versa. Leftist policies do not serve in his best interests, and his centrism is reflective of that. Those marginalized demographics are the ones being scapegoated by the conservative elite, which is indicative of their platform as a whole, and the only way to prevent further indoctrination is to make certain America knows it.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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1 Comment

  1. Killer Marmot
    Killer Marmot September 10, 13:40

    This message brought to you by the Democratic National Committee.

    Reply to this comment

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