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Memo to Joni Ernst: Most Americans want more than one pair of shoes

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Look, I realize that the whole narrative about starting from the bottom and working your way up is a huge deal for politicians. (And Drake.) It’s a classic for a reason, a way to identify both as the underdog and as a winner, so basically every sports movie ever made except for politics. Clinton did it. Obama did it. Even Romney tried and failed miserably to do it. But there was something about Joni Ernst’s paean last night to deprivation in childhood that felt like it crossed the line to me.

As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees.

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We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning.

You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.

But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.

Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.

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She does pay lip service to the idea that people should be getting paid more for the work they do, but overall, the theme of the speech was that there’s something ennobling about working hard and not having much to show for it.

Or maybe it just felt that way because President Obama’s speech was so very clear about how people who work hard should have more to show for it. He wasn’t abstract about it, either, but laid out specific things people who work hard should be able to see in return: Child care, education, equal pay, something a little nicer than “pizza night” for a treat, that sort of thing. Sadly, he didn’t have the text of Ernst’s response ahead of time, or I suspect he would have said something about how important it is for someone who works full time to be able to afford more than one pair of shoes.

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There’s a subtle difference, is all I’m saying, in how Democrats and Republicans tell the tales of hard work and deprivation. Obama, in particular, is good about laying out concrete things that people who work hard should expect in return. Ernst’s speech, however, was really vague about the relationship of hard work to getting ahead—probably because Republican policies are about making sure that most people who work hard cannot get ahead, no matter how hard they try. It makes a rough sort of sense for Republicans to push the idea that working hard to starve is rewarding because you can sit around feeling virtuous, since there’s not much else they are willing to offer you in exchange for hard work. But it also seems that the romanticization of deprivation is not the greatest campaign strategy. People want a better life, and that’s going to be hard for Republicans to work around.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Pandagon

Ch-ch-changes…..

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After many years and many server changes and finally landing here at Raw Story, which has taken very good care of us, it's time to say goodbye to Pandagon. I've been blogging under this banner for ten years, after Jesse Taylor asked me to join. He, in turn, had been running this joint since he was in college. A lot has changed since then. I became a journalist, moved from Austin to New York and learned to play Dungeons & Dragons. Jesse became a lawyer and, just this past weekend, a married man.

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Pandagon

Carly Fiorina defends her lie with a whole bunch of lies

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I do like it when Republican candidates sport a resume full of corporate executive work, because it really shows the public how many fools and idiots coast into that position not on merit but on their bullshitting abilities. Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and now we have Carly Fiorina, who just can't understand why her perceived underlings (voters, journalists) won't scurry away, pretending to accept her bullshit like former employees of hers had to do, lest they lost their jobs.

And so it goes that Fiorina, who could make this entire Planned Parenthood controversy go away by saying something like, "I may have misremembered the video, but I still think abortion is wrong," instead is doubling and tripling down. And every time she does, she lies more and more. She was on Meet the Press and, so enamored of the idea that she is perfect and could never do anything wrong, just went to town with the defensive posturing.

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Pandagon

Marco Rubio has an astoundingly low opinion of women’s intelligence

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At RH Reality Check, I covered this story that I wish was getting more press, about how Marco Rubio goes back and forth between suggesting that women who get abortions are greedy monsters who get pregnant for cash:

I just think you’ve created an industry now … a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue for purposes—these centers—for purposes of making a profit off it, as you’ve seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates.

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