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Thank heavens for Michael Steele

By Amanda Marcotte
Sunday, February 7, 2010 17:11 EDT
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Things are looking pretty bleak right now. The Republicans have made it clear they intend to filibuster all Democratic legislation on principle—the principle that the recent elections signal nothing but a blip in a system that’s meant to be one-party rule, and they are therefore obligated to resist these interlopers who’ve obtained power illicitly, through winning elections. (This assumption that power is so rightfully yours that democracy shouldn’t get in the way is the argument used by dictators for life, by the way.) The teabaggers are getting bolder and bolder in their development of a new Know Nothing party. The economic recovery isn’t doing much for the 10% of Americans that are unemployed. Senate Democrats still seem to think the game is being played with the old rules. Avatar will probably win Best Picture. Dark times, indeed.

But hey, at least Michael Steele is still the head of the RNC! And that means that we still get helpful explanations from him of what Republicans are really all about. He and Harold Ford were speaking together at the University of Arkansas, and this exchange happened:

The two often traded jokes, especially when Steele panned President Barack Obama’s long-stated plan to let income tax rates return to higher levels for families making more than $250,000 a year.

“Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money,” Steele said.

Ford later asked the audience of mostly college students, “Who in here makes a million dollars a year?”

When you let Harold Ford sound like a prince next to you, you’re doing something very wrong. As Think Progess explains, the median household income in the U.S. is $52,000 a year, which means that it would take 20 average American households to pool their income to make enough for Michael Steele to live in his version of abject poverty. Fewer than half a percent of Americans make a million or more a year. When Republicans say they want “small government”, this is what they mean—government for and by that half a percent of Americans.

That Steele played the “pity the poor millionaires” card in the worst economy since the Great Depression was awesomely out of touch enough, but what happened next laid bare the entire Republican argument for why they should get a majority vote every year.

“How many of you want to make a million dollars a year?” Steele quickly responded when no hands were raised.

Well, okay then. There’s the Republican argument in a nutshell—give the goodies to rich people, because you want to be like them, though of course the vast majority of you have no chance at all. Using the premise that the rest of us should gladly give up everything to the already-privileged because we want to have their privileges, you should also stop dating if you rate less than a “10″ by an impartial jury. You’d rather be smoking hot than average, right? So why clutter the marketplace with your adequate level of hotness? You and your demands to be taken seriously as a human being when you’re not in the top half a percent of people on the hotness scale are embarrassing.

It’s interesting that Steele thinks this argument is actually the one that sells the Republicans to the public. I’m skeptical. Some votes, sure. The fantasists of the right wing movement are nothing to sneeze at. But first of all—even though Steele is just as ignorant of this fact as much Democratic leadership and the mainstream media—the Republicans aren’t actually in the majority with this argument that the economic elite should be able to squeeze the public for all its worth. Second of all, what elections they do win often depend on their support for upholding other hierarchies that more typical Americans can support, because they’re on the winning side of that oppression. Racism and sexism get the Republicans a whole lot more votes than “millionaires deserve to fuck over the country”. You have a lot more people sobbing over the tragedy of hard-working sperm that’s thwarted by interfering ladies who think they have rights than you do sobbing over the woes of millionaires who have to live in slightly less lavish style than they’d prefer.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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