Remember studying Macbeth in high school?
We had to memorize the lines that end, “…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Gov. Matt Bevin and the Republicans hope, if not expect, that Macbeth’s immortal words will sum up the election.
They seem to believe that there’s a “silent majority” of Kentuckians who are okay with their holy war against unions, teachers, first responders, and other public employees. Or they figure their old social issues sucker-play will work on voters for the umpteenth time.
Ignoring historic grassroots citizen protests this year and last, the Republicans rammed through their anti-worker and anti-public employee agenda. Next January, they expect to take up where they left off in pushing their greed-is-good, social Darwinist agenda.
In 2017, union members thronged the Capitol to denounce the “right to work” law and the measure that repealed the prevailing wage. Republican lawmakers paid them no heed and steamrollered both bills, which Bevin eagerly inked. (A handful of GOP legislators joined the Democrats in opposing the measures, but to no avail.)
This year, teachers and other state, county, and city workers found their pensions in the Republicans’ crosshairs. (Unions and public schools are among the GOP’s biggest banes.)
No matter, the Republicans rushed their dubious pension “reform” measure through the legislature, only to see Attorney Gen. Andy Beshear sue to overturn the bill in court and win. The bill’s fate rests with the state Supreme Court.
At the same time, the governor and his party continued to shaft workers, going after the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs. Bevin abolished the state Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, to boot.
The social issues con is all the Republicans have—or have ever had—with working people. Larry Sanderson of Paducah, a retired UA international representative, calls them “The Three Gs: God, Guns, and Gays.”
The Republicans have been hustling working stiffs with the social issues for years. You’d think it would be mission impossible to get anybody to vote against his or her own interests. But with the social issues, it’s been mission accomplished for the Republicans for going on 40 years.
Before you vote, please read—if you haven’t already—Thomas Frank’s book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Published in 2004, it’s as timely as ever and could be rewritten and re-titled What’s the Matter with Kentucky? How Conservatives Won the Heart of the Bluegrass State.
“Strip today’s Kansans [or Kentuckians] of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans,” Frank wrote.
“Push them off their land, and next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society [Bevin’s a Birch booster.] But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.”
Time was, most Kentucky farmers and workers voted their wallets and rejected rich Republican politicians (Bevin’s a millionaire) who did the bidding of the plutocrats President Franklin D. Roosevelt dubbed “economic royalists.” They’re today’s “one percent.”
FDR and the New Deal were hugely popular in Kentucky. He carried the Bluegrass State in landslides all four times he ran and won. Like Lincoln, the first Republican president, Roosevelt believed government had a broad responsibility to help people who needed help. Bevin and his hero, the current Republican president, don’t agree.
Sadly, and inexplicably, a lot of people who desperately need government aid vote for well-heeled politicians like Bevin (and Trump) who make no bones about taking away that aid.
Republican control of the governorship and GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate remind me of the motto of Jim Pence’s feisty Hillbilly Report blog: “Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much.”
So, as you vote for state legislators next month, ask yourself two questions:
- What have Bevin and the Republicans done for me?
- What have Bevin and the Republicans done to me?
The answers are easy: “nothing” for the first question and “tried to destroy my livelihood” to the second one.
They set out to ultimately cut your pay through RTW and PW repeal—and enrich your boss in the process. (They also cut the boss’s taxes while foisting on you new sales taxes on many services.)
The Republicans made your job more hazardous. They made it harder for you to qualify for workers’ comp.
Hence, vote accordingly if you pack a union card – or if you are a teacher, first responder or other public employee, current or retired, who watched Bevin and the Republicans scoff at your protests, slur you time and again, and trash the state’s promise to provide you a pension commensurate with your service to the people of Kentucky.
Vote your union job, not the GOP con job.
Cross-posted with permission from the KY AFL-CIO site.