By Felix Veritas
What does the Republican Party stand for these days?
Between Mitch McConnell lying (according to Ted Cruz and other GOP senators) about an Export-Import bank deal, and Jeb Bush kissing Telemundo’s ring in an immigration/amnesty-related interview this week, it’s hard to say any more.
Apparently, just doing the right thing for the right reasons isn’t kosher at the moment. But if genuine virtue is somehow recognized again, Republicans should go after a constituency pleading for a reason to vote for them: the Hopeful Poor.
Unroll your eyes and hear me out. First let’s look at the playing field…notice I said “the Hopeful Poor.” These are folks who struggle financially but genuinely pursue a better life: their own American Dream. This is the majority of today’s poor.
However, there is also the “Institutionalized Poor.” While smaller in number, these citizens find government-entitlement waters warm and comfortable, with no intentions of leaving. This is the condition Democrats (at least at the national level) insidiously propagate to secure their political longevity. Financially evangelizing the Institutionalized Poor, or rekindling their internal motivation, offers little promise. But this group’s existence — and how they arrived there — validates the GOP’s moral high-ground.
Namely, 50 years after initiating LBJ’s welfare state, liberal pandering to the poor yielded little-to-no improvement in poverty (in fact, quite the contrary). Despite those clear, obvious failings, Democrats continue selling the same failed policies that actually do more harm than good. (Of course, that begs the question “Why?” But that’s for another column)
By contrast, Republicans philosophically WANT all people to succeed…want all people to improve their lives. GOP mouthpieces just do a crappy job of communicating it.
And like Donald Trump caught fire with a strong, resonating message on illegal immigration, the Hopeful Poor crave a similar direct voice…a voice confirming that the Liberal Lie won’t liberate them, just like it hasn’t for 50+ years. But there is a solution, and conservatives have it.
Mind you, this is more than just a “Grow the economy for more jobs” sell. Let’s be honest, there are folks who fall through the cracks and we can’t ignore them. This goes beyond political implications; it’s our moral obligation to offer options to improve their lot, especially if we call ourselves people of faith.
So it takes real solutions. Private sector, citizen-helping-citizen solutions. I’m talking about a legitimate handshake with one partner saying “Here, I want to help without judgement, because it’s good for both of us,” and another partner saying “I appreciate your help and honor it with my best efforts.”
I know this sounds like unicorns and rainbows, but believe it or not it’s today’s reality with the Hopeful Poor. President Obama’s epic economic failure, especially in the minority community, is opening eyes and hearts to alternatives. Most African Americans won’t talk about it publicly, but privately many quietly acknowledge that their Moses hasn’t freed any slaves from Egypt, just brought frogs and locusts.
Armed with the proven knowledge that government programs don’t remedy poverty, faith-based private initiates — using crusading volunteers and staff, instead of cold-oatmeal bureaucrats — are a genuine solution. But you can’t snake oil these folks. They’ve been lied to enough. They deserve better.
Only genuine caring and concern – supposed conservative hallmarks, but who knows these days – will win the day, because there is only one shot at this. We have to help these most vulnerable of our citizens, and we have to do it right. Empowering and incentivizing private agencies like The Salvation Army, The Waterfront Rescue Mission, and The Church Health Center will yield actual results, and positively change people’s lives.
Conservatives have to vigorously communicate these options, and do so with the passion and fervor Trump brought to illegal immigration.
This is a unique opportunity for the GOP, and for a candidate willing to grab and seize this golden ring. If we screw it up, another chance won’t come for a long time.
This is the next installment in our series of contributions by a mysterious denizen of Mobile, Alabama, named “Felix Veritas.” I promise that I am not Felix and Felix is not I. In fact, there will surely be times when I disagree with Felix.
Anyway, Felix is very thoughtful and a terrific auto-didact, with a great sense for “the big questions” of culture and politics. I am delighted to have his contributions to this site. Please be on the lookout for more, in the coming months. — Quin