Why Poor People Vote for Republicans


Considering how Republicans constantly attack the poor, they shouldn't have a chance with anyone who isn't already rich. So why do they?

Republicans like to say they are all about personal responsibility. Then of course, they support the SCOTUS decision taking personal responsibility away from citizens and placing it in the hands of corporations. They lie about a war, have us believing in non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and then try to blame the situation in Iraq on the subsequent administration.

00-02g-12-10-11-political-cartoons-gopThe GOP advocates slashing food stamps, denying unemployment assistance, opposing affordable healthcare, and cutting taxes for the wealthy. They constantly demonize poor people, and think the economically disadvantaged deserve only scorn and insults. If you’re poor, you’re just lazy. End of reasons. Yet they get heavy votes from lower income Americans. How are they doing this?

“People don’t vote to say ‘thank you,’ do they? They vote to say ‘fuck you!'” ~ Bill Maher

There are many factors as to why this is so, including gerrymandering districts, such as what just made news in Florida, and voter suppression. But these particular elements have been covered extensively, and they aren’t the only reasons for this phenomenon. Republicans rely on a myriad of tactics to keep their poorer constituents voting against their own economic interests.

One tactic is misdirection. They paint Democrats as irresponsible whenever they can. They call our President, a man graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, a community organizer. In short, they use smear tactics.

Meanwhile President Obama has proven eminently effective as leader of the nation. He has made healthcare accessible to millions of Americans, kept the USA out of a handful of wars, boosted the economy, and fixed some of the mess left behind by the Bush administration. Yes, he has a long way to go and he’s far from perfect, but Obama has faced an uphill battle of Republicans refusing to work with him even before he took office.

Yet many conservatives who know better say that the President hasn’t done anything to help the country. Or, hilariously, that he’s some kind of tyrant, right after saying he’s weak on foreign policy for not starting enough wars.

You also can’t ignore the infiltration of conservative talking points into the faith of Red Staters. Evangelists, televised or not, spearhead the Religious Right and are awful for “us against them” sermons and mentality. Don’t believe me? Look to Pat Robertson and his hateful rhetoric against LGBT Americans, Chic-Fil-A, or, again, the recent Hobby Lobby ruling for just a few examples

Poor PeopleThese people believe that their God is conservative. The #ccot (Christian Conservative On Twitter) hashtag gets heavy use. There you will find Christians tweeting anti-Obama, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-Democrat statements. And all of them believe God is on their side. It is the very definition of zealotry.

Throw Fox News into the mix, which Politifact recently reported as disseminating more false information than truth. When you travel through Red States, Fox News is on in most gas stations, fast food restaurants, and public areas. An unabashedly conservative media outlet, Fox News continually broadcasts a right wing agenda to its viewers.

They blame The Other; immigrants, ethnic minorities, LGBT Americans, and women, while saying people need to “take America back” They repeatedly bash the President, give platforms to lobbyists and corporate shills, and constantly work to undermine progress and support obstructionists. They do all of this while telling the viewer that they are the chosen people of God and America.

Then they tell you the most important part, everyone else is lying to you. Don’t touch that dial. Fox News creates fake “wars” on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and whatever will shock their audience. This paranoia is sown to distract their viewers from voting from the GOP’s real war on poor people.

With Red State Education kept slashed, distrust against science and critical thinking is sown and everyone is highly encouraged to go to church for more political divisiveness and false moral superiority. And Fox News backs all of this up. That’s how you get voters opposing their own health care, supporting corporations poisoning their water, or advocating cutting taxes for the wealthy.

This is a pure definition of the French word ressentiment. Yes, it sounds like the English “resentment” and is somewhat similar in definition. But it defines the phenomenon of an electorate voting against their own economic interests. “A generalized feeling of resentment and often hostility harbored by one individual or group against another, especially chronically and with no means of direct expression.” It’s textbook population control.

This also plays into how many conservatives get made fun of as ignorant hicks, as they are manipulated to be this way. They swallow whatever story is spoon-fed to them, no matter how ridiculous. Birther crap. Benghazi mistruths. Even that Obama is the Anti-Christ. They cannot and will not accept that what they are saying is not true. They will not compromise or reason in debates, no matter how crazy their argument.

Poor PeopleThat gets seen by everyone else, correctly, as a willingly obstinate ignorance and even pure insanity, absolutely frustrating anybody dealing with them. This leads to insults, both sides of the debate dig in their heels, nothing gets accomplished, and the conservative thinks they have “won.” Meanwhile the political divide widens even more.

“Divide and conquer,” remember? Clear thinking Americans realize that their President is not a Kenyan/Muslim/Fascist/Socialist/Communist/Tyrant/Weakling/King/Coward/Anti-Christ/Whatever. But if you inject enough irrational fear and/or loathing into your base, they won’t question you when you say someone else is to blame for their troubles.

And there you have the roots of the majority of America’s divisive issues and why poor people continue to vote against their interests. This problem is so deeply ingrained it will take generations to die out. And by then, we’ll have a whole new set of problems if we haven’t been defeated by the current ones. But you tell that to the kids today and they won’t believe you.

“The game is rigged. And the rich and the powerful have lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everybody else, not so much.” ~ Senator Elizabeth Warren


About Author

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York City. He is a former security professional, veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in both the arts as well as administration. He has been writing all his life, likes baseball, hockey, literature, science, the arts, and marine photography. Chad lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.


  1. Clyde Riboldi on

    I’m confused, I was under the impression that the majority of “poor people” in the United States belong to African Americans and other minorities. Aren’t they mostly democrats?
    This article was funny to read from the very get go because your ASSUMPTION from the very beginning was false. Just read the below article that takes a closer look as to what policies create more poverty…


    Those exact same articles are the same things that are being said about the Liberal Media and their “poor voters”. You’re forgetting that the majority of the lower class votes democrat. So your entire argument is based off of an assumption that poor people vote republican. But isn’t it a Democratic talking point about African American inequality that Blacks or other minorities are likely to be in poverty? That’s what the Dem’s speak about all the time how the white Republicans are keeping them in poverty!
    Yet the majority of these minorities vote Democrat.
    I’m sorry I just am confused as to why you made an assumption, drew conclusions about that assumption and then generalized the conclusions into one big answer. This is why I can’t take liberals seriously. They look at snapshot statistics and not at the facts in perspective.

    • The majority of the poor in red states do not vote democratic, you’re getting that confused with the country as a whole. Most people in red states vote against their own interests and vote for someone religious

  2. Actually, the hobby lobby gave the power to the corporations, not the responsibility, that is still the individuals. The responsibility to toe the corporation’s government mandated religious standards, taxes, and laws, which will be enforced by the average persons taxes, which the corporations get out of paying.

  3. Hello, first I would like to start out by saying that I am a conservative republican (however, I do have more democratic social views, but that’s not the point). I read your whole article. You wrote it very well and I quite enjoyed it (though it did offend me a little). I noticed that you made a generalization about republicans that is quite untrue. A fairly large portion of us are actually supportive of gay rights, abortion, and many other controversial situations. What you did is the same as if I wrote an article about how my girlfriend cheated on me, so that means that all girlfriends cheat on their boyfriends. See what I’m getting at? It was a part to whole fallacy, which in of it self makes it less credible. Not only did you write an article about lower economic class people voting for republicans, you wrote it as an attack on republicans–not as an insightful logical argument. The other thing you did in your article was attack the person (republicans) directly instead of their views. This is categorized as an Ad Hominem fallacy, which means you are irrelevantly attacking the person on the other side of the argument to make your argument more just. Other than those few logical errors in your piece, it was put together and written very well. Thank you for posting it.

  4. It’s cute that you spew talking points (mostly abjectly and easily-proven false) instead of offering premises for a solid case. (eg: “He [Obama]has made healthcare accessible to millions “)

    Perhaps that’s just an indication of the weakness of that case.

  5. Pingback: Memo To The Republican Base: You Do Math Wrong

  6. Maybe because they don’t want to lose the little freedoms they have left. They get more out of life than many rich people do. They enjoy their small world more than the wealthy do. They’re happier with an old pickup truck than the rich are with their Mercedes. They still love America. The liberals, on the other hand, are responsible for most of the violence today. They are certainly keeping racism alive and well in the country. They play dirty with all their double standards. The working men and women see through the B.S. and just want to live their lives without the government in their face all the time.

    • You said “The working men and women see through the B.S. and just want to live their lives without the government in their face all the time.” Do you not see that when the Tea Party and the GOP say they want to reduce government… they are talking about the government regs that protect the working folks- safety regs, overtime, fair hiring rules, progressive tax rates . On GOP idea I heard in the “debate” …was a flat tax of something like 20%. Working folks pay less than that now and the really rich can pay …30% or more….except for the slick ones who use loopholes and offshore accounts and pay around 10%. They pay very little on their earnings and dividends from the stock market……… you really think they are looking out for you? They want to cut social security or link it to the stock market….

    • But the Republicans want to ban abortion. That is the taking away of a freedom by Republicans. Some of them also want to ban gay marriage. That is the taking away of another freedom.

      What freedoms do Democrats want to take away? I cant think of any.

    • Oh liberals cause violence huh? let’s consider about 33 people die every day from gun violence and conservatives fight tooth and nail to stop any law that would try to reduce that in any way. Liberals try to reduce the amount of pointless wars we fight (Iraq) Republicans try to start more of them. Sure you made sense…

  7. We KNOW what they’re doing. We KNOW the terrible, tragic outcome. Will someone, SOMEONE please come up with a plan to STOP THEM???

  8. It’s the Southern Strategy, simple as that. It’s the pact made five decades ago between Big Business and Big Bigotry, aka what Thurgood Marshall called “The Uptown Klan”: The various white-supremacist “sovereignty commissions” and “white citizens councils” that fought the civil rights movement tooth and nail.

    Big Business uses racism to appeal to white working-class and middle-class voters (“If you cut business taxes and taxes on the rich, you hurt blacks by cutting social programs!”), and Big Bigotry uses the language of a false fiscal prudence as code for doing things that they think hurt black people more than whites.

    Or as Lee Atwater said back in 1981:

    “You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.””

  9. Karen Bertocci on

    Here’s why I think poor people vote Republican. If I’m poor, my life is hard. It is scary. I am on the edge of disaster every day, every week. But as things are RIGHT NOW, I am alive, I am surviving. If just one thing changes, I can’t predict whether I will survive that. If I get fewer hours at work or if gas prices go up, or if someone gets sick. Things are bad now but THEY COULD BE WORSE. So what I want, in my desperate state, is I want things to stay the way they are. I’m teetering on the edge of the cliff, paralyzed. If I reach my hand out for help that could put me off balance. This makes me a “conservative,” someone who wants everything to stay the way it is. Fox News et al play to the fear and give people a focus for their fear–be afraid of Socialism, or immigrants, or Obamacare, or whatever. Those are bogus objects but the fear is very real. I’ve been poor and I know first hand what it feels like, and this is my opinion about why poor people identify with the conservative cause.

    • Scott Hedegard on

      Fear does play a part, as you suggest. Most people who are attracted to the GOP spew are afraid of fresh ideas, change, or anything that upsets the routine. This is why we hear so many dullard, mechanical non-thinking idiocy from GOP voters not filthy rich. It’s also why they are long on finding fault, but never suggest anything to correct a problem. That would take risk, which is something people who are hooked on routine, religious ritual and other societal brainwashing are loathe to do.
      Christianity in the U.S. has degenerated, at least in the Bible Belt and other Red States, into the spiritual arm of the Republican philosophy. It is racist, hate filled, intolerant and its followers cannot abide by letting others think and worship or not for themselves. They are petrified of dissent, and prepared to attack rather than acknowledge a difference of spiritual or political opinion.
      This segment of the population is also notoriously poorly educated, and until this mindset changes, which I severely doubt it will without a massive catastrophic political event of some kind, the rest of us will be moving forward, with the right pulling at our ankles, trying to drag us backward every step of the way, and is usually the case, will eventually accept new things only when there exists no alternative.

      • Scott Hedegard on

        I wish to edit my sentence “This is why we hear so much dullard, mechanical non-thinking . . .” I typed too fast to catch it.

  10. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why Poor People Vote For Republicans

  11. Well done article that definitely answers one of the burning WTF questions we ask daily. But I have to do it: if you are going to write an article that discusses ignorance (real or perceived), it might be a little less ironic had you correctly spelled “magna.” As in “magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.”

    • No. He’S not. Do you not understand it? It’s common knowledge. The Republican Leadership is owned by corporations and work exclusively for the 1%ers. They have think tanks that plan and design spin campaigns to make the poor vote against thier own interests.

      • You mean like how poor people were bussed in and told to vote for Obama when they know nothing about the man other than he is black (half black actually). His only “qualification” was as a community organizer.

  12. Pingback: The Republican Strategy of Stupidity : Quiet Mike

  13. I’ve heard it called the “Temporarily Displaced Millionaire” syndrome…and it has been said that this concept underlies the thoughts/motives behind people voting against tax increases because it MIGHT affect them sometime in the future, after they are restored to their Millionaire status of course (Think Joe the not really a Plumber dude…)

  14. I agree it is mind boggling just today I met 4 folks living in a very small home with “not liberal” bumper sticker on their car. During the time I spent with them they complained a lot about not heaving health care in between a few negative Obama remarks. I was not in a position to share my political beliefs but I was astounded. I have a very good job, education, insurance provided by my employer..I really do not directly benefit from social programs and yet I am losing sleep over the election results while those who would immediately benefit fight against me. Logically I should be a Republican and they should be Democrats…I guess that is what they mean by “bleeding heart liberal”. Its very discouraging

    • Denise, I see the same thing every day! I have grown to realize the majority are simply deficient with any education or decision making! I grew up in Indiana ( Yes its RED) but have a very good job, education and so-on. I live in Florida and teach.

      For years i was under the impression that Republicans were smart, they were educated and were Doctors or Lawyers, they were schooled and had resources. They had MONEY. Its just not the case, it has taken me years to learn that generally Conservatives are not thinkers, they are followers without education, or even access to education. I could go on but it is redundant!!

  15. Pingback: The Benefits of Free Higher Education : Quiet Mike

  16. Hey everybody lets boycott Fox News maybe then the Republicans can’t brainwash people so much. Maybe the ratings will go down, and they can take Fox News’s brainwashing off the air.

  17. I’m constantly befuddled as to why those of you on the left haven’t opened your eyes to see the real truth? The Democrats continue to lie and can’t even follow what they say. They expect others to do what they say but they can’t even practice what they preach. A good example is a study by PowerPAC+, funded by a major Democratic donor, revealed that less than 2 percent of spending by Democratic campaign committees during the past two election cycles went to firms owned by minorities. That’s just one example!

    As for the GOP slashing all the things stated above, its not about “slashing” like the author states, its about reorganizing to be sure those programs are used the way they were intended instead of having people abuse them. Programs like food stamps and other welfare programs were meant to give a hand up, not meant to live off the rest of a person’s life as so many seem to feel they are there for. We don’t need a government of hand outs and we don’t need a big brother government interfering with every aspect of our daily lives as Obama seems to think we do.

    I’ve read quite a few of your blogs, Mr MacDonald, and if you would open your eyes to get the real facts, you would understand that the GOP and conservatives are not against anyone getting a helping hand UP. We just feel that we don’t and shouldn’t have to pay for someone to live their whole life because they are too lazy to go out and get a job if they are perfectly capable of working.

      • Mind boggling how deep the indoctrination of ignorance goes for those that listen to FOX and dropout conservative pundits. Why would you believe that a dropout is going to increase your knowledge or speak the truth. Dumb leading the dumber.

    • The funny thing is conservative (red) states don’t want people to abuse programs, yet they are the ones where the majority of people who use these programs live. They are taking the government money, and don’t offer any solutions to help the people living in their own states. Blue states on the other hand have a lot less people on government assistance and yet would support health care, food stamp, affordable housing without batting an eyelash.

      Republicans are selfish, Democrats are for the common good of All Man.

    • ” A good example is a study by PowerPAC+, funded by a major Democratic donor, revealed that less than 2 percent of spending by Democratic campaign committees during the past two election cycles went to firms owned by minorities. That’s just one example!”

      What this says to me is not “DEMOCRATS ARE HYPOCRITES” as I’m sure it was presented to you. Rather, it says “We still have a serious problem in this country if minorities own such a small percentage of companies”

      Maybe you should reconsider.

    • Democrats don’t want to give hand outs either. Not that it matters, the Republicans have worked exclusively, regardless of the law being introduced, to block everything that democrats have tried to make better or work better. Like a bunch of school children stomping their feet, if everything isn’t done their way, they won’t play.

      The problem is, the republican way hasn’t worked and just digs the country into a bigger financial mess, more wars, less education and health care. How dumb do you have to be to keep letting the Republican Leadership, that is ownes by the 1%ers, keep pulling the wool over your eyes.

    • Unfortunately the undeserved government handouts are actually going to the wealthy and the major corporations not only in unmerited tax forgiveness but actual tax dollars. I get so sick and tired of the rant about the lazy undeserving poor..I spent several years in social work and most recipients are too young, too old, or too handicapped. However, many of the able want desperately to work, I was in a program to train and help women get jobs. Guess what happened. Beginning salaries were so low that they didn’t cover the costs of child care, transportation, appropriate dress, etc. What they earned on the job was less than what it cost to take the job. On top of that, they lost government medical benefits. They couldn’t afford to work! And yet there are all sorts of excuses as to why business can'[t be expected to pay a living wage. Keep in mind that for those that do work at such low wages, the taxpayer still has to foot the bill for medicaid or food stamps, etc. We subsidize the damned companies that keep the profits at the top rather than give fair salaries to the workers that make the profit. We need more anger toward the undeserving rich and more understanding of the impossible circumstances faced by many of the poor.

      • Wow, is that ever an idiotic analysis. If a 50,000 person company were to not pay its CEO $50 million / year, and instead raise all its other employees salaries commensurately, that would be a bump of $0.40 per day. Yippeee!

        But a bad CEO, all by him/her self, can RUIN a company (look at Carly Fiorina or Johannes DeNysschen). Not so for the average employee. It pays to get a good one.

    • Katie, if it stopped there, I would be all for it. But that’s not the case. The religious right whack jobs have hijacked the Republican Party and feel compelled to impose their will on everyone, wanting to dictate how people live their lives. They feel it is their destiny to impose their version of “morality” on the rest of the country.

  18. Hello Chad. Like your writing. Like to know more about you, but the link to “bio” does not reveal a bio. Are you a Canadian citizen? Apologies if this is not the place for this enquiry, but not sure where else. Cheers

  19. Pingback: Cultural Marxism and the Roots of Conservative Hatred : Quiet Mike

  20. My people… I’ve finally found my people!! I was going to answer the question with “ignorance,” but I’m more of a ‘cut to the chase’ kind of person. Great article 🙂

  21. I’m constantly bewildered by people voting “against” their own self interests. It’s ludicrous to even think the (R) could give two shits about the economically distressed and yet, it is the same downtrodden, yes—this means you too, broke white people who are receiving assistance, folks who don’t view themselves in the same manner because they don’t *look* like their poverty brethren. They’re not welfare queens with 5 babies from 5 different daddy’s. What most people fail to understand is that poverty is cyclical for the working poor too. I read somewhere that only 2% of the GDP is used for assistance. Want to know where the rest goes……you can bet it isn’t going to anybody who is disenfranchised or anywhere near the now missing middle class.

  22. Tell the poor, the disenfranchised, the ignorant, that their condition is caused by those “others”. Tell them what they want to believe, that they are somehow superior. It worked for Hitler, and the Republicans have learned that, at least, from history.

    • Best answer so far. The truth in a nutshell. If you’re poor, you want to 1. deny the fact, or, failing that, 2. find someone who/s is to blame for it, and 3. be reassured that it’s not your fault. The Repubs provide all that to poor white people by suggesting that of course they’re hard-working, expemplary Americans, and, but for all the Democratic-caused waste, the economy would be humming and they’d be well-employed and well off.

  23. Excellent. So much fear in these folks as Peter Greenwald comments, “They blame The Other…” while taking refuge in their religious distortion “that they are the chosen people of God and America.” One thinks that they do not get out of their bubbles, their insularity is encouraged not only by Fox News but also a consumerist economy. Where things take the place of feelings.

    • What God are they talking about? The God I know is kind, loving and helps everyone rich or poor. I don’t see how Republicans can call themselves the chosen ones, God only chooses good not bad. I don’t think God makes mistakes in who is the Chosen ones. It sure isn’t Republicans, I can’t see letting people die of hunger, sickness, and Poverty, as something that God wold make as the Chosen ones. Poor people are wrong if they think God would choose Republicans to be the Chosen ones. They don’t represent Kind, Loving or helping in there minds, only how much money can buy them what they want.

    • It seems like a lot of people got a good brainwashing by Fox News and the Republicans did a good job of making voting very hard for poor and Minority People, and their not racist. What is it called when one stops certain people from voting. voting should be free and easy not costly and almost impossible for poor and Minority people,

Leave a Reply