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08.16.2011 2

Who Speaks for the Average American—And Why It Doesn’t Matter

By David Bozeman – Republicans are the party of the rich, or so I am told. While I consider myself, in terms of political/ideological identity, a constitutional conservative first, I do often vote for Republicans, thus friends and family ponder how a guy like me, of limited wealth (though fiercely independent and ambitious), could support the Washington branch of corrupt corporate America.

Republicans are so derisively linked to the rich that a litany of examples would seem almost redundant, so I hope readers will indulge me the opportunity to continue with my anecdotal case (furthermore, the notion of the GOP as the “party of the rich” is so manifestly absurd that I hardly know where to begin debunking it). Like the latest twist in a TV soap opera, some relatives, with brow-furrowing concern, surmise that because I have never bought property and dealt with “evil” bankers, I am just naive to life’s pitfalls from which only benevolent Democrats would try to save me.

In truth, some of us choose our party affiliation/ideological identity from factors beyond our own limited circumstances. For instance, though I have no children, I support educational choice, up to and including vouchers. The Republican Party speaks to that, while the Democratic Party, beholden to teachers’ unions, does not. I support free market reforms to offer citizens greater choice in health care and insurance, which, far from being a pawn of the rich, should make me a vocal consumer advocate. I think a major overhaul of burdensome regulations would benefit businesses large and small (and I am grateful every day that President Obama’s energy policies have never fully taken hold), as well as the “little guy” when he makes his purchases and pays his bills.

But sadly, the fallacy persists, and millions of hard-working, patriotic and, yes, conservative Americans continue to vote for the like of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, all the while claiming that “I’m not really a liberal.”

I mean, c’mon, whose values and lifestyle have more in common with the average American’s, Sarah Palin’s or Nancy Pelosi’s? Michele Bachmann’s or Timothy Geithner’s? Who would be more likely to tear up at the national anthem, former POW John McCain or a certain president who attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for twenty years?

I agree with Ann Coulter, who once noted that, in fact, liberalism is a luxury of the rich — note that Hollywood, the Hamptons, the Maryland/Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. and most major urban areas remain hotbeds of liberalism, while rural and small-town America mostly stay conservative. Of course, the elite response to that is that North Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas have been hoodwinked by the GOP into voting against their best interests.

Or could it be that — gasp! — Republicans just connect better with Main Street America?

Can a party stay viable for most of its 150-year history by representing such a narrow demographic as “the rich”? Does it stand to reason that you can seriously contend for the presidency by consistently nominating shills for Wall Street (and it’s not like Democrats have never taken a dime from the rich).

In the end, like many conservatives, I recoil at any blatant appeals to my economic status. Not that I harbor some pipe dream of retirement by 50, I just see myself as an American first. It takes all of us to make this country work, labor and management, urban and rural, etc.

We are not class units in America, we are individual citizens, and most of us will not stay in the same economic column all our lives. Though some take comfort in their conferred status, ultimately, we each must determine our identities, lest they become lost in the public lexicon of political correctness and groupthink, hostage to those who seek power for their own sordid ends.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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