I know many of you think you look smarter when you do so, but the fact of the matter is, individual politicians can’t do much of anything in a democratic system, so focusing on individual voting records is kind of dumb. Since 1981, Democrats have only had control of the government in 1993-1994 and 2009-2010, and both times, they had a remarkable record. Also, considered which party guided us into becoming the biggest economic power in the world. It sure wasn’t Republicans. Also, we elect governments to serve us, not lead us. We supposedly elect them to follow our lead and provide us with the services that make our country and our lives better.
Okay, so how do we measure things in a way that gives us the best possible government? You look at results. No, you don’t look at campaign rhetoric and go with the one who panders best. And since politicians can’t do anything on their own, we have to look at who does what when they’re in a majority. But we have to look at the two major parties and the results they bring. Do that, and the choice is easy.
Consider what Democrats have done over the years; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, WIC and AFDC (welfare). They also created OSHA, the SEC, the FHA, HUD, the EPA, the FTC, health care reform, the Civil Rights Act, including Title IX, the Voting Rights Act, and even the ADA.
The difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties has never been more stark. The Democratic ideology is about helping as many people as possible, whereas, the Republican ideology is all about low taxes and not spending money on anything. Even one of the few times Republicans have tried to do something for the American people, we got Medicare Part D, which is a prescription drug program for seniors that is only slightly better than the previous system. They not only left seniors in the lurch with a “donut hole,” but they prohibited negotiations and price controls on drugs, which is great for Big Pharma, but no one else. Not only did they largely screw seniors, but taxpayers, in general were forced to pay whatever the drug company decided they wanted to, so they could make a profit.
And look at how many Democratic Party programs they have been able to kill over the last few decades. Ever hear of CETA? It was a job training program that was working to place poor people in jobs, and it was one of the first programs Reagan destroyed so that he could give rich people a bigger tax cut. In other words, the poor working their way out of poverty became less important than millionaires seeing tax rates cut in half. Back in the late 1970s, Democrats passed standards that would have reduced fossil fuel usage by five percent per year. Reagan killed those, too. When Democrats were in charge, unions and large companies thrived. When former union president Saint Reagan signaled it was okay to kill a union by killing PATCO, it all but marked the end of unions in the US.
Republicans are wholly incompetent at running the government; a fact that should be obvious by now. What should also be obvious is, during the period from 1933-1980, with Democrats in charge most of the time, we became the most prosperous nation in the world. Since Republicans have taken over, we’re quickly becoming an also-ran. That’s not a coincidence; their ideology is vacuous and morally bankrupt. Their intent is to prove that government doesn’t work; you cannot say the same about even the worst Democrat.
Republicans don’t care about deficits, which is why they always leave us with huge debt. Republicans created the conditions that led to both the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Bush Recession of 2008. Republicans crash the economy and run up the debt, while Democrats fix the economy and return the government to equilibrium. That doesn’t mean the debt will ever be zero; that’s unrealistic. But with Democrats in charge, the debt went from 120% of GDP to 33% of GDP during the post-war era. It wasn’t until Reagan was elected that the debt became ridiculous. Republican ideology shows that they have no problem leaving the cost of it all to our children and grandchildren.
There are plenty of data supporting this. Look at this chart (Source):
The green stripe shows what the debt would look like had Reagan and Bush 41 actually balanced the budget, as they promised, and Democratic Presidents Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama did exactly what they did. Of course, without the Bush 43 tax cuts and the massive war spending he directed, followed by the massive recession, the debt might be less than 10% of GDP by now. As you can see, about 80-90% of the current debt can be laid at the feet of the Republican ideology. They call themselves the “Party of fiscal responsibility,” but the Republican ideology doesn’t allow for responsibility. Since the end of World War II, there have been 10 recessions, and only one came under a Democratic president. However, it was Democratic Presidents and Democratic Congresses who pulled us out of all 10.
The problem with Republican governance is even starker when you look at the records in individual states. Regardless of the weather, it is just easier to live in blue states than red states. It’s difficult to find a single quality-of-life issue that isn’t better in blue states than in red states.
For example, the top goal of any state should be to attract the best people, meaning the sharpest people, capable of making your state better. Yet, here is a list of the ten smartest states, based on level of education and several other factors: 1. Massachusetts; 2. Vermont; 3. Virginia; 4. New Hampshire; 5. Connecticut; 6. New Jersey; 7. Minnesota; 8. Maryland 9. Nebraska; 10. California
Nebraska is the only solidly red state in that group. And yet, when you look at the bottom ten, well…
49.(tie) Mississippi and Louisiana; 48. Nevada; 47. Oklahoma; 45.(tie) Alabama and Arkansas; 44. New Mexico; 43. Indiana; 42. West Virginia; 41. South Carolina. (Source)
Now, all of those red states seem like nice places to live, so why are they not attracting the best and the brightest? In part, it’s because, while these states feature low taxes, it’s also because the Republicans running these places have messed up the economy. Face it; even when they have the greatest climate and the lowest taxes, Republican-led states are not great places to live.
Republicans and Economy; Not So Much
Supply-side economics, also known as “trickle-down,” doesn’t work. We know this, because Republicans have tried it many times and the expectations that lower taxes will cause businesspeople to invest more in the economy just doesn’t make sense. In the history of the world, lower taxes does not lead to more investment because the two things aren’t related. Most red states feature low or no income tax rates and they brag of “balanced budgets” and restrained spending, but while Republicans often claim, or at least insinuate, that their state economies are in far better shape than those in blue states, they lie. Again, they lie.
A couple years ago, an analysis in the New York Times showed the hardest places in the country to live. They compiled the data by county, and they used six data points, including education, household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. The blue sections are the easiest places to live, while the orange (their choice of color came long before Donald Trump ran for president, so it’s pure serendipity) are the hardest. Here is a screenshot of the map:
It’s easy to see where the biggest pockets of orange are, and when you look at data on a state by state basis, the reality becomes clear; red states are not well-run and it’s easy to see why the people living in them have a difficult time.
Let’s start with an easy concept; median household income:
Based on a three-year average, from 2013-2015, the ten states with the lowest median household income were: 50. Mississippi, $36,188; 49. West Virginia, $42,082; 48. Arkansas, $42,813; 47. Kentucky, $43,629; 46. New Mexico, $44,243; 45. Alabama, $44,995; 44. Tennessee, $45,072; 43. Louisiana, $45,206 42. South Carolina, $45,222 and 41. Oklahoma, $47,101. (Source)
First of all, the fact that Oklahoma is there, given the impact of their oil boom, should indicate just how badly Republicans run things. If you can’t be at least in the middle of the income pack when you’re fracking so much oil your state becomes the earthquake capital of the country, something is seriously wrong.
Now, compare those figures with those of the ten states with the highest median household income from 2013-2015: 1.Maryland, $73,472; 2. New Hampshire $69,518; 3. Alaska, $72,187; 4. Connecticut, $71,213; 5. Minnesota, $67,168; 6. Hawaii, $67,060 7. New Jersey, $66,182; 8. Colorado, $65,570 9. Virginia, $64,926; 10. Massachusetts, $64,903. (Source) The only red state on that list is Alaska, and they really shouldn’t count, since their economy is largely socialist and dependent on payments from oil companies, which increased during the oil boom.
Of course, incomes are only part of the picture; why not look at poverty rates, as well? Now, keep in mind, poverty rates nationwide have dropped significantly in recent years. And yet, And as of 2014, the last year available, the ten states with the highest percentage of household poverty are: 1. Louisiana, 23.1%; 2. Mississippi, 22.1%; 3. Arizona, 21.2%; 4. West Virginia, 20.6%; 5.(tie) Kentucky and New Mexico, 20.0%; 7. Arkansas, 18.4%; 8. Alabama 17.8%; 9. (tie) Tennessee and Oklahoma, 17.3%. (Source)
Every single one of those is red. In fact, you have to go to #18 to find a blue state on that list and there are only two in the top 20. If you want to find the bulk of the blue states on this list, you’ll have to look at the states with the lowest poverty rates as of 2014: 50. New Hampshire, 7.2%; 49. Minnesota, 8.3%; 48. Connecticut, 8.6%. 47. Vermont, 9.3%; 45. (tie) North Dakota and Wyoming 9.7%; 44. Maryland, 9.9%; 42. (Tie) Utah and Virginia, 10.2%; and 41. Iowa, 10.3% (Source)
Most striking is that, except Utah, the red states appearing in that list were in the midst of a massive oil and gas boom at the time. And yet, apparently many blue states are doing better than the largest oil boom state, Texas, which has the 17th highest poverty rate, at 16.9%. And yet, they are always bragging to the rest of us how much they’re booming. By the way, California’s poverty rate was lower than Texas, even in 2014. Now, it’s probably much lower.
To go along with the above statistics, we could look at states with the highest rate of SNAP (Food Stamps) recipients, as of October 9, 2015: 1. New Mexico, 22.3%; 2. Mississippi, 21.2%; 3. Oregon, 20.1%; 4. West Virginia, 19.9%; 5. Florida, 19.4%; 6. Louisiana, 19.1%; 7. Tennessee, 19%; 8. Alabama, 18.5%; 9. Georgia, 18.4%; 10. South Carolina, 17.2%. (Source)
However, that only tells part of the story. A lot of Republicans claim that their states are easier to live in because everything’s cheaper, which is simplistic enough. So the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) came up with a measurement to evaluate relative “food hardship” in the various states. They asked a simple question, “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” That tells a much more interesting story than simple SNAP data. Here are the “top” 20 states with the highest percentages of people who answered that question, “yes.” (Source)
Put simply, while Republicans try to pass themselves off as “fiscally responsible,” and who are always lecturing us on “welfare” have a bigger problem than anyone they’re lecturing. And their people are poorer and more hungry besides. And it’s the ideology that’s the problem. Most of these states have always been poor, even when they were led by Dixiecrats. And that is because Dixiecrats have been fully absorbed into the Republican base. And because The GOP peddles the idiocy of “trickle down,” these states continue to wallow at the bottom.
Speaking of poor, you should know that…
Red States are the Real “Welfare Queens.”
As bad as things are in red states, they would be far worse off without the massive subsidies provided by taxpayers in the blue states. Yes, that’s right; for all the Republican whining about welfare, they’re actually the real “welfare queens,” a term ironically coined by none other than Ronald Reagan. Only, instead of the Saint Reagan-ized image of a fat black woman with 15 kids breaking a “Food Stamp” by buying an orange, so she could use the change to buy a bottle of ripple (never possible, of course), now we have red states keeping their tax rates artificially low for their rich citizens and the few companies that will invest there, and taking extra money from the federal government to make up the difference. Whenever a Republican whines about how horrible it is to support California during tough times, show them these numbers, laugh in their faces and tell them to shut up.
Here are the red states who receive the most federal money back for every dollar they paid in taxes in 2013: South Carolina, $5.38 (NOT a typo); North Dakota, $3.83; Alabama, $2.46; Mississippi, $2.34; New Mexico, $2.19; Kentucky, $2.18; Florida, $2.02; West Virginia, $1.91; Indiana, $1.81; Wisconsin, $1.79. (Source)
Just as an aside, Wisconsin was only getting $0.86 for every dollar paid as late as 2009, before Scott Walker took over. (Source) Now, he’s only able to keep the state fiscally sound by scamming extra federal dollars, which is the Republican way. That’s another thing about the Republican ideology; they don’t understand the concept of irony.
For the record, here are the states that get the least amount of federal money for every dollar they pay in taxes: Delaware $0.31; Nebraska, $0.41; Illinois, $0.45; New Jersey, $0.48; Ohio, $0.51; Kansas, $0.54; Minnesota, $0.54; Wyoming, $0.55; New York, $0.58; Colorado, $0.64 (Source)
There’s an even better measure out there now. Here is a list of states ranked by their government’s dependence on the federal government, based on a number of criteria, including their dependence on federal subsidies, combined with their dependence on federal contracts and the military. This is telling: 1. Mississippi; 2. Louisiana; 3. Tennessee; 4. South Dakota; 5. Missouri; 6. Montana; 7. Georgia; 8. New Mexico; 9. Alabama; 10. Maine. (Source)
One could, of course, make the case that money isn’t everything. If a state was a safe, secure place to live and raise a family, who would really care if they made a bit less, right? Unfortunately for the people living in those red states however, when Republicans complain about how bad things are, they’re projecting.
Red States Are Not Safer
You see, there’s a reason Republicans like to focus on Chicago and Washington, DC; they want to take the focus off their states. In 2014, the ten states with the highest murder rates were; 1. Louisiana, 10.3(per 100,000); 2. Mississippi, 8.6; 3. Missouri, 6.6; 4. South Carolina, 6.4; 5. Maryland, 6.1; 6. Nevada, 6.0; 7. (tie) Delaware and Florida, 5.8; 9. (tie) Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, 5.7. (Source)
Notice something missing in that group? Illinois and Michigan? How about New York and New Jersey, which Republicans dismiss as murderous hellscapes because of their strict gun laws.
Meanwhile, the ten states with the lowest murder rates for 2014 were: 50. New Hampshire, 0.9 (per 100,000); 47. (tie) Vermont, Maine and Minnesota, 1.6; 46. Hawaii, 1.8; 45 Iowa, 1.9; 42. (tie) Oregon, Massachusetts and Idaho, 2.0; 41. (tie) Utah and South Dakota, 2.3. (Source)
If you expand that beyond murder to all violent crime, it doesn’t get better for red states. The states with the highest rate of violent crime for 2014 are; 1. Alaska, 635.8 (per 100,000); 2. Nevada, 635.6; 3. Tennessee, 608.4; 4. New Mexico, 597.4; 5. Florida, 540.5; 6. Louisiana, 514.7; 7. South Carolina, 497.7; 8. Delaware, 489.1; 9. Arkansas, 480.1; 10. Maryland, 446.1 (Source)
Though Republican ideology requires a laser-like focus on Chicago, Detroit and New York, their states don’t even come close to red states when it comes to violent crime. Blue states have pockets of violence, whereas it’s everywhere in red states. If it’s a huge red state with almost no people, you may have a chance. If not, you’re screwed.
The “War on Women” is apparently quite literal in red states. The 10 states with the highest rate of women murdered by men (2012) are; 1. Alaska, 2.57 (per 100,000 women); 2. South Carolina, 2.06; 3. Oklahoma, 2.03; 4. Louisiana, 1.92; 5. Mississippi, 1.89; 6. Nevada, 1.83; 7. Missouri, 1.73; 8. Arizona, 1.70; 9. Georgia, 1.66; 10. Tennessee, 1.60. (Source)
Of course, Republican ideology suggests that the solution to violent crime is more guns, but the data suggests the opposite.
The ten states with the highest rate of firearms ownership are: 1. Wyoming 59.7%; 2. Alaska 57.8%; 3. Montana 57.7%; 4. South Dakota 56.6%; 5. West Virginia 55.4%; 6(T) Mississippi, Idaho and Arkansas 55.3%; 9. Alabama 51.7%; 10. North Dakota 50.7%. (Source)
Now, according to GOP ideology, that should mean a lot fewer firearm deaths. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. There is a whole lot of overlap with states having the highest firearm death rate (2013): 1. Alaska, 19.8 (per 100,000); 2. Louisiana, 19.3; 3. Mississippi, 17.8; 4. Alabama, 17.6; 5. Arkansas, 16.8; 6. Montana and Wyoming, 16.7; 8. Oklahoma, 16.5;.9. New Mexico, 15.5; 10. Tennessee, 15.4. (Source)
Worse, of the 31 states that were above the national average firearm death rate was 10.4 per 100,000, 26 of them are reliably red and of the 19 that were below that average, only two are red.
To reinforce that point, here are the ten states with the lowest rates of gun ownership: 50. Hawaii 6.7%; 49. New Jersey 12.3%; 48. Massachusetts 12.6%; 47. Rhode Island 12.8%; 46. Connecticut 16.7%; 45. New York 18%; 44. Illinois 20.2%; 42(T). California and Maryland 21.3%; 41. Florida 24.5% (Source)Compare that list of states with the list of ten states with the lowest firearm death rates: 50. Hawaii, 2.6 (per 100,000); 49. Massachusetts, 3.1; 48. New York, 4.2; 47. Connecticut, 4.4; 46. Rhode Island, 5.3; 45. New Jersey, 5.7; 44. New Hampshire, 6.4; 43. Minnesota, 7.6; 42. California, 7.7; 41. Iowa, 8.0 (Source)
Of course, there is no rational basis for the belief that more access to guns equals less gun crime and fewer gun deaths. On its face, that assumption sounds nuts. And the data shows that it is nuts. More guns equals more crime and more gun deaths, no matter what the ideology.
Red State “Family Values”
For all their talk about “sanctity of marriage,” in practice, well… again, not so much. Now, there is nothing wrong with being divorced. Some of my best friends are divorced or have been. The problem comes when people who claim so much self-righteousness tell everyone else that divorce is a sign of weakness or some other such nonsense. Look at the the ten states with the highest divorce rates: 1. Maine; 2. Nevada; 3. Oklahoma; 4. Arkansas; 5. West Virginia; 6. Florida; 7. Kentucky; 8. Oregon; 9. Montana; 10. (tie)Tennessee and Indiana (Source) Except for Oregon and Nevada, which doesn’t even belong there, since a lot of these divorces are probably people who got married by Elvis when they were drunk, the rest are led by self-righteous Republicans who constantly complain about same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, aren’t you wondering about the states with the fewest divorces? Well, since you asked, here they are: 1. New York; 2. New Jersey; 3. Utah; 4. North Dakota; 5. Hawaii; 6. Massachusetts; 7.(tie) Illinois, Pennsylvania and California 10. Maryland. (Source) Might I note that most of those states approved same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court weighed in? Just saying…
While Republicans complain mightily about the “loose morals” of liberals, and they prefer “abstinence-only” programs to comprehensive sex education, well, they might want to re-think that a bit, because whatever they’re doing isn’t working, based on their own “moral code.” The 10 states with the highest rate of teen pregnancy are: 1. New Mexico; 2. Nevada; 3. Arizona; 4. Texas; 5. Mississippi; 6. Delaware; 7. Arkansas; 8. Georgia; 9.(Tie) South Carolina and Tennessee (Source) That’s a pretty red list.
And while they’re always on about sex — they seem obsessed with it, really — and they pretend that all of their people are chaste and virtuous, last year the CDC produced a report on three major Sexually Transmitted Diseases, or STDs, which seem to be seeing a resurgence in recent years. The big three are chlymidia, gonorrhea and syphillis, and here are the states with the highest rates of those three STDs: 1. Louisiana; 2. Mississippi; 3. Georgia; 4. Alabama; 5. South Carolina; 6. Arkansas; 7. Illinois; 8. Texas; 9. New York; 10. North Carolina. (Source). This would seem to indicate that red states’ rejection of the ACA and their defunding of Planned Parenthood is a really bad idea.
Red States Also Fail at Education
Our kids are our future. However, in Republican-led states, their education is seriously lacking. The ten states with the worst graduation rates in the country as of 2011-12 are: 50. Nevada, 63%; 49. Oregon, 68%; 48. New Mexico, Alaska and Georgia, 70%; 45. Louisiana, 72%; 44. Florida, Colorado, Mississippi and Alabama, 75%; (Source)
It’s no wonder so many drop out. Look at how little red states spend on education per pupil. The bottom ten states when it comes to per pupil spending on education as of Fiscal Year 2011 are: 50. Utah, $6,212; 49. Idaho, $6,824; 48. Oklahoma, $7,587; 47. Arizona, $7,666; 46. Mississippi, $7,928; 45. Tennessee, $8,242; 44. North Carolina, $8,312; 43. Nevada, $8,527; 42. Texas, $8,671; 41. Colorado, $8,724 (Source)
Meanwhile, the states with the highest spending per pupil are: 1. New York, $19,076; 2. Alaska, $16,674; 3. New Jersey, $15.968; 4. Vermont, $15,925; 5. Wyoming, $15,849; 6. Connecticut, $15,600; 7. Massachusetts, $13,941; 8. Maryland, $13,871; 9. Rhode Island, $13,815; 10. Pennsylvania; $13,467 (Source)
The Problem is Taxes: The Rich Don’t Pay
One reason Republicans don’t spend money to make making people’s lives better is because they don’t have it. They don’t collect the revenue needed to do so. Instead, as we saw earlier, they depend on subsidies from blue states to even pay for the little they do. But while they don’t collect enough in taxes from those who can afford it, they do screw the poor and middle classes with taxes, which is commonly called “regressive taxation.”
Earlier this year, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) took a look at the regressive nature of some states’ tax codes and ranked the states accordingly. Here’s their “top ten” counting down to the most regressive; 10. Indiana, 9. Kansas, 8. Arizona, 7. Tennessee, 6. Pennsylvania, 5. Illinois, 4. South Dakota, 3. Texas, 2. Florida, 1. Washington. (Source)
Click on that link and take a look at the states that don’t tax the rich at all. The top one percent in Florida pay less than two percent in taxes, while in Texas they pay less than three percent. Guess who makes up the difference, voters? This is the model Republicans want to impose on the entire country. You can’t be okay with that. If we’re to build a progressive nation, we have to focus on the ideology that makes people believe the country is broke, so they can give millionaires a pass while they gouge people who work for a living.
If you are looking for a reason to encourage the people you know to vote Democratic, here you are. And if you’re one of those who says both parties are the same, there is something wrong with you. Learn this. Republicans have to go.