In his 18 May letter appearing in both the Sun-News and the Bulletin, Neal Hooks, a Republican candidate for the state senate district 38, takes it upon himself to defend Republicans against the charge that they hate “minorities, the poor, gays, women and the elderly.” I am not going to debate whether Republicans “hate any of these folks.” I shall let Hook’s statements speak for themselves. For instance, “these folks”? What does a little casual patronizing tell us about Republican attitudes toward these constituencies? Big respect, right?
What I am going to debate is Hooks’s simplifying, dissembling Republican reasons for their positions on issues affecting “these folks.” For starters, Hooks states, “just because Republicans want to reduce the entitlement state, doesn’t mean we hate the poor.” What it does mean, he never says. When his twisted logic is straightened out, what he asserts amounts to what he denies. If it is not hatred of “these folks,” it might just as well be; none of them will be able to tell the difference.
The logic begins and ends with “just because” clauses which introduce, then dismiss, everything at stake, what he calls the “entitlement state.” What exactly the “entitlement state” means, Hooks also never says, but I think that he means government programs intended to help “these folks” who need help. But he is duplicitous enough not to say so; they might not vote for him if he told them what he really means. And, if we are not one of “these folks” but want their needs met, we also might not vote for him.
Republicans like Hooks label Social Security and Medicare as “entitlement programs” and prefer to reduce them for the purported reason of fiscal responsibility rather than to find ways to meet basic human needs. However, they are not “entitlement programs”; they are insurance programs, and their payroll deductions are payments of premiums. So workers pay into them and thereby earn the benefits which they and their families receive. Other programs to help the poor—food stamps, Medicaid, and the like—are not “entitlement programs,” but programs access to which is means-tested to assist the needy. But Republicans like Hooks want to reduce these programs, too. Accordingly to his twisted thinking, reducing food and medical care to the poor, who are often already hungry and sick, show that Republicans “care more about the poor” than Democrats. Hooks’s Republican “tough love” makes the needy needier.
Republicans like Hooks have a lofty reason for reducing the necessities of the needy. According to him, Republicans, unlike the Democrats, “don’t want to relegate anyone to a permanent class of Americans who are dependent on the state.” He implies that Republicans believe that most of the poor prefer independence and destitution to any reliance on the state for the bare necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, medical care, as well as education, job training, and unemployment benefits for themselves and their families. For the many of the poor who do not prefer independence and destitution, Republicans like Hooks will choose it for them. Republicans believe that man cannot live on bread alone; indeed, they believe that the poor can live on the spirit of independence alone, without any bread at all. Republicans don’t hate the poor; they just love them to death.
Republicans like Hooks know nothing about the poor. If they knew anything, they would know that most of those trapped in poverty want to escape it. Republicans like Hooks, with their economic and educational advantages, think that those without them can and should overcome their disadvantages all by themselves. If they knew anything, they would know that those trapped in generational poverty and not aspiring to escape it are so downtrodden and discouraged that ideas of improving themselves to overcome disadvantages are alien to their experience and the subcultures in which they live. Republicans like Hooks do not hate these people; they just do not know anything about them, just do not care about them, and just do not want to care for them.
On all other issues, Hooks offers some simplistic basis for dismissing charges against Republicans. For Hooks, Republican opposition to gays is “simply” to prevent schools from teaching “controversial behavior”—as if they do or would. Hooks omits Republican opposition to same-sex marriage, civil unions, protection against job discrimination, protection against domestic violence, provisions for hospital visiting rights, and many other rights and privileges which straights have. Those who deny gays such rights and benefits love them only when they can relegate them to second-class citizenship.
For Hooks, Republican’s are not waging a “war on women,” only objecting to paying for “birth control.” Hooks omits Republican efforts to deter abortions by requiring abusive and unnecessary medical procedures, to allow doctors to lie to their patients about abortions, to restrict abortions which might save the health or life of women, to limit access to contraception goods and services, to cut health services for women and children, to oppose equal pay for equal work, and much, much more. Those who deny women decent treatment and fair pay love them only when they can relegate them to second-class citizenship.
So Hooks’s really big lie is that “the truth of the matter is Republicans and Democrats have the same concern for all people, [sic] we just have different solutions.” Of course, he does not identify any solution but deprivation of the material means to dignity and self-development. His claim of equivalent concern is a lie, and Hooks knows it, for, as noted above, he claims that Republicans “care more about the poor” than Democrats. Call it anything but “hate,” if you want to; it is still Republican patronizing and callous disregard for “these folks.” Count on it that Hooks will lie about and obfuscate his positions before the election; then, if elected, make “these folks” feel that, all things considered, they would rather not be loved by Republicans.