Letter to the editor: Democrats, not Republicans, help the working class
Elections are around the corner. Many of us are looking forward to simply having them over, at the same time more than a few feel anxieties with how they may come out. We may have had deeper divisions in our country in the past, but I cannot recall one in my nearly 70 years, outside the ’60s and the Vietnam War. The Democratic and Republican parties remain dominant on the political front, yet both are divided beyond their usual differences and the candidates for president are the least popular on the ballot for as long as I have been voting.
I am dismayed candidates are not required to state which party they belong to in their political advertisements, especially this year with such strong divisions between the Democratic and Republican parties. Today’s paper had a number of ads, yet there was no mention of party in a single one of them. In my opinion this is wrong because name recognition is often the deciding factor for folks once they are in the voting booth, especially for local offices that do not get as much media coverage as state or federal positions. It does make a difference which party controls the government so knowing which party your candidate belongs to is important.
I won’t hide the fact my tendencies are more Democratic, or Independent, than Republican. Nonetheless, I have voted for Republicans a number of times in almost 50 years of voting. If George Aiken were still around I am pretty sure I’d still be voting for him. That said, about the last time I was inclined to vote Republican, for a federal office anyway, was back in Jim Jeffords’ day. I voted for Jim because I believed he really cared for the regular guy, would even buck the party line if it hurt the Vermonters back home that sent him to Washington. I’m afraid those days are gone. Many of us old timers remember when Jeffords conscience wouldn’t allow him to support the Reagan budget and tax cuts. He knew these benefitted the rich upper class over the working folks. Jim’s refusal to vote for Reagan’s budget led to his being ostracized by the Republican Party, eventually he said he had no choice but to leave the party if he wanted to represent Vermont. He left and become an independent that sided with the Democrats.
Vermonters are independent in our voting. We want the best person in the office, sometimes even when that person does not belong to the party we favor. In elections for local and state offices I voted for whomever I felt the best person, although recently I tend to favor a woman candidate over a man if I feel both are equally qualified for the job. Women manage to do a good job raising families, even when they have to hold down a job outside the home, while men have dominated the highest political offices. I feel it’s time to see how women will run things. That said, I am afraid I can no longer support someone on the Republican ticket even with this gender preference. The reason, even if I ignore Donald Trump (as many Republicans are doing) is the Republican Party has clearly shown it wants to rigidly control its members. While this control is not as clear in the current election, it has been present during both of President Obama’s terms. Republicans have openly forced their members to oppose the president, no matter what he’s tried to do. I feel paying attention to party affiliation is even more important today, especially for working folks.
My father used to say the only difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that the Democrats at least pretend they are for the working guy. I understand what dad means, but disagree about the pretending part. The Republicans very much pretend they are for the regular guy; in fact I believe pretending they are for regular folks is their ace in the hole. The Republicans consistently call for less taxes and smaller government. They say the reason is taxes are too high for the working person, yet the tax cuts almost always come from programs intending to help those in the lower classes, the folks who work for weekly paychecks (or can’t find a decent job); they never call for cuts to the huge defense budget. The regular guy may get a few hundred bucks back on his tax return with the tax cuts proposed, but those at the top can save millions. The real benefit always goes to those with enough money to hire lawyers and financial managers to get the most from the tax breaks. Donald Trump brags this is being a shrewd businessman. We all should know it just keeps the game rigged for the rich to get richer while the rest of us look for second and third jobs to get ahead or even make ends meet.
Democrats can screw up efforts to help those on the bottom find better lives; nonetheless, I feel history shows the Democratic Party sincere in allegiance to the working class. The Republicans, on the other hand, hold out the carrot that says we can all be rich (just like they are) if we just lower taxes and have less government regulation. The fact is these things do more to keep the system rigged than they do to help the middle or level the playing field for the lower classes. There is a real tragedy within all of this, a tragedy beyond the system being rigged to favor the rich. The real tragedy is how well the wealthy have convinced the working class to focus more on stopping the lower class from getting something for nothing than it is to stop those at the top from getting truly obscene amounts of money without lifting a finger other than to call their accountants or brokers.
How does this apply to voting this November? There are some good folks running for office on the Republican ticket. We may like what some of them say they will do. The important thing to remember is this — do not for a minute think they can go against the philosophy of the Republican Party and do not think for a minute the Republican Party stands for the worker anywhere near as much as it stands with the boss. Also recall the folks at the top gave themselves bonuses when the recession hit most of us between the eyes and most of them support the Republican Party. It does make a difference what party a candidate belongs to, even here in local elected offices. Remember how it turned out for Jim Jeffords and consider carefully before voting for a good candidate belonging to a political party that does not in fact share your values.
Cliff Adams Jr.