In a fascinating article about the re-election campaign of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Slate reporter David Weigel touches on the tragic irony of the typical disaffected voter that is working to return the Republican party to the majority in the United States House of Representatives.
In 2008, (voters in the Orlando-area 8th Congressional District) voted for Grayson and the Obama-Biden ticket, narrowly, because of disgust with the Bush administration’s failures. It was tough to find a job then. It’s tougher now.
Republicans are blaming the weak economy on President Obama, Grayson and Congressional Democrats.
It’s a critique that appeals even to voters like Jeff Evans, 49, who was laid off from his trucking job in December 2009. He was receiving unemployment benefits until a Republican filibuster stopped them this summer, leaving him without a revenue stream for weeks. But even though Grayson and his fellow Democrats eventually restored his benefits, Evans isn’t sure he will support Grayson. It would do him more good, he said, and allow him to keep his dignity, if they “let the small businesses create more jobs.”
Meet Jeff the Trucker, a typical unemployed American who despite the direct negative impact that Republicans have wrought — namely a protracted filibuster in the United States Senate that interrupted the meager unemployment benefits that represented his only income — is supporting a Republican Congressional candidate. How can Americans be so easily misled into voting in direct opposition to their economic best interest?
The candidate Jeff the Trucker supports is a Republican with his name on the dictionary, Daniel Webster. In a complete break of reality — one that pretends that the half-billion egg recall, BP oil leak, Wall Street meltdown, sub-prime mortgage lending crisis and Massey’s West Virginia coal mine disaster never occurred — Republicans continue to insist that budget-busting tax breaks and less regulation on business will lead to more employment.
Grayson knows how popular that argument is. The solution: Argue that Republicans have no credibility to make it. He pivots off of one of Webster’s ideas,a proposal to cut the budget to what it was in 2007. Webster suggests that Floridians were perfectly well off when the government spent at that lower level. Grayson prefers to ask whether voters realize that a cut like that would mean lower Social Security payments.
“It’s a stupid idea,” says Grayson. “Nobody has a time machine, OK? The world has changed a little bit since 2007. For one thing, there’re a lot of more people out of work.” Soon he’s on a roll, explaining how $12 trillion of capital disappeared in the “Bush implosion” of 2008. That’s who voters need to blame, he says. Why aren’t they as angry as he is?
“In 18 months, two centuries of work, the collective effort of millions of people, all gone,” says Grayson of the financial crisis. “So now the Republicans want to go back to 2007? It’s a little bit late for that.”
Joe the Trucker needs to wake up to his exploitation by Webster and the Republican Party, that has used the “Tea Party” moniker to replace their discredited brand, misled and exploited its followers who are feeling real pain, some of it caused directly by Republicans themselves. What we are witnessing is the counterattack of the nation’s wealthiest citizens to prevent even the slightest correction to the disastrous course that President George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans have led this nation.