Another day, another American wakes up to what the Republican party is really all about. In a personal account on Salon.com, former self described “GOP die hard” Edwin Lyngar writes about his transformation, and how he came to leave the “politics of shame.”
Lyngar describes how as a college dropout who was serving in the Coast Guard when his wife gave birth to their first child in 1994, their family found it necessary to apply for food stamps. He writes:
Looking around, I saw no other young servicemen. Coming from the white working class, I’d always been taught that food stamps were for the “others” — failures, drug addicts or immigrants, maybe — not for real Americans like me. I could not bear the stigma, so we walked out before our number was called.
Despite being in the military, and receiving subsidies for housing and utility bills, Lyngar says he blamed all his problems on the government. He describes his feelings of being a “moral failure.” At one point he says he considered himself “white trash,” and he voted for things such as giving rich people tax cuts because he believed that they had earned it. He says, “I knew they were better than me.”
After years of backing Republicans, Lyngar says he saw the light. The beginning of his change seemed to come in 2010. Living in Nevada, he says he could not support the Tea Party candidate for senate, Sharon Angle, calling her “an obvious lunatic.” Instead, he sent money that he really didn’t have to spare, to the Rand Paul campaign. Lyngar describes what he saw after the Tea Party gained power in Washington:
Immediately the Tea Party-led Congress pushed drastic cuts in government spending that prolonged the economic pain. The jobs crisis in my own city was exacerbated by the needless gutting of government employment. The people who crashed the economy — bankers and business people — screamed about government spending and exploited Tea Party outrage to get their own taxes lowered. Just months after the Tea Party victory, I realized my mistake, but I could only watch as the people I supported inflicted massive, unnecessary pain on the economy through government shutdowns, spending cuts and gleeful cruelty.
In 2012, Lyngar voted for Obama. He offers a scathing commentary on people who support the Tea Party, saying that many of them know they are just one misfortune away from ruin. He believes there are many others, like he was, who vote against their own interests because they are ashamed of being poor — that somehow it is their fault, and not the fault of a system that is rigged against them. A system that they support with their votes for Republican candidates.
One by one, the Edwin Lyngars of the world are seeing the light.