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Labor Perspective From Hofstra University Professor Leon Friedman Via The Huffington Post: Why Does The White Lower Middle Class Vote Republican?

Published Monday, November 2, 2015
by Hofstra University Professor Leon Friedman Editor’s Note: Leon Friedman, a Professor of Constitutional Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, authored the following Labor Perspective that was published by The Huffington Post and can be directly accessed at:


During the 2008 Presidential Election, 51% of White voters who earned less than $50,000
a year voted for Republican John McCain.  

The Pew Research Center reported that, during the 2012 Election, the GOP held a 54% to 37% advantage over Democrats among Whites without a college degree - which correlates with income at a lower level.  

While people at the very bottom of the income level vote Democratic, a majority of Whites in the Lower Middle Class (those earning from $30,000 to $50,000) vote Republican.

And of the 10 States with the Lowest Household Median Income in 2008, nine voted Republican.

Why should this be so?

Based purely on self-interest, such Lower Wage Earners should vote for the party that would help them the most economically.

The Democrats favor a higher Minimum Wage, Protection of Union Rights, generous, if not free, Medical Care Programs for Working Class Americans, Safety Regulations for the Workplace, reducing Global Warning (which effects the health of everyone), higher taxes on rich people to pay for even more generous Social Programs, and maintaining - if not increasing - Social Security Payments.

Republicans, on the other hand, want to reduce taxes on the rich, restrict Union Rights, repeal Obamacare, privatize Social Security Benefits (which could undermine the program's reliability) and eliminate various regulations on business, including Safety Requirements and efforts to deal with Global Warming.

Of course, Republicans argue that reducing taxes and regulations would help Workers because the rich would increase their investments in new businesses and bolster the economy.

That investment, in turn, would increase wages for everyone.

But the facts and economic theory does not bear this out.

There are no trickle down benefits for the poorer, only sucking up benefits for the rich.

Over the past decades, almost all the gains in the growing economy went to the rich.

Income for the middle 60% of the population grew by 40% from 1979 to 2011, an average of 1.8% a year.

On the other hand, the income of the top 1% in that same period grew over 200%, an average of over 9% each year.

The ratio between CEO income and Worker Income rose from 30 to one in 1978 to 296 to one in 2013.

The top 10% of the population received 32% of the Nation's total income in the 1960's and 51% in 2014.

In terms of wealth, the top 3% owned 44% of the total wealth of the Nation in 1989, but this increased to 54% in 2013. 

The wealth of the bottom 90% fell from 33% of the total wealth in 1989 to 24% in 2013.

So why does the White, Lower Middle Class population continue to favor the Republicans, despite the fact that the economic promises of the party have been shown to be bogus?

Partly it is a cultural phenomenon.

The Republican platform is against abortion and gay marriage and for gun rights, important issues for Lower Middle Class Whites.

Various studies also show that Americans who attend church frequently are significantly more likely to be Republican and less likely to be Democratic.

Only 25% of White Protestants who attend church once a week vote Democratic.

And 61% of the religiously unaffiliated vote Democratic.

These statistics suggest that ideology trumps self-interest.

There is a darker element to this division.

Richard Hofstadter has referred Hofstadter to the "paranoid style in American politics."

Hofstadter refers to the "animosities and passions of a small minority" who believe that mysterious conspiracies are threatening their lives.

To Read the Rest of This Labor Perspective, Go to:



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