The Ladder; Not at the Bottom So I’m Good

Larry 'n NassauI always found it interesting the ways Southern slave owners justified the enslavement of fellow humans. Just as amazing was how willing poor white Southerners were to defend a social and economic system that effectively also enslaved them. Poor whites were fervent supporters of slavery when in fact, many of them were economically far worse off than the average black field hand. Black slaves represented an economic investment for the owner so some degree of concern was shown that was never received by poor whites.

One key to understanding this is simply to consider the social ladder. Years ago a college professor of mine said that as long as there was someone further down the social ladder than poor white trash, poor white trash could be counted on to support the status quo.

LBJPosterWhat brought this subject to mind was a photo circulating on the Internet. It contained a quote from President Lyndon Johnson that explains the above statements and also why so many Americans often vote against their best interests. Myrl Shoemaker once said that any person who carries a lunch pail should be a Democrat. So if working people are best represented by the Democrat Party why do so many vote Republican? Well, according to Johnson the answer is:

“If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.”

How else can we explain the continued loyalty of working-class Republicans after the almost total collapse of the American economic system following eight years of Republican leadership at the national level?

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