In response to my 28 Questions For Republicans Because Your Policies Make No Damned Sense To Me, a Republican offers 20 questions of his own.
Thank you, Kurt. I doubt we’ll ever agree on much, but I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I’ve listed your 20 questions and my responses below.
20 questions from a Republican, with my liberal responses.
1. If the Democrats are no longer racist, why do they insist on excluding white men from affirmative action, regardless of how poor the man is?
Affirmative action is meant to help people from groups that are behind the eight ball because of our long history of discriminating against them. These groups include blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, and people with disabilities. In general, white men are the most advantaged group who’ve faced the fewest barriers on the ladder of success in terms of education, hiring, and the neighborhoods they grow up in. With that all said, I — along with many other progressives — believe that affirmative action has sorely neglected low-income white people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, especially in rural and exurban areas across the U.S.
“White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America” by Nancy Isenberg talks about how generations of poor whites have been relegated to the bottom rungs of our class hierarchy, often barely above the black slaves whose free forced labor depressed their earning power. FDR and LBJ seem to have understood this dynamic and made great efforts to fight rural poverty. Modern Democrats seem to have forgotten.
2. Why do we even need affirmative action? Aren’t minorities capable of success on their own merits?
It’s not because minorities are less capable of success on their own merits. It’s because our system has deliberately put them at a disadvantage and discriminated against them for hundreds of years…And we still do it.
We need affirmative action and/or other anti-poverty programs because disadvantaged groups have faced centuries of discrimination that have held them down and they have not been able to accumulate wealth at the rate that white middle class and wealthy people have. Unfairly discriminatory housing laws have forced urban minorities and rural poor whites into worse neighborhoods with fewer amenities, that are “redlined” so people can’t get mortgages to buy homes or take out loans to launch small businesses. Until the 1960s and 70s, minorities and women couldn’t even get into the top colleges where you don’t just get educated, you also make contacts. Perhaps affirmative action is a blunt instrument, but in my experience, those who oppose it also tend to not acknowledge that these disadvantages not only exist but are deeply entrenched.
If you’re not racist and assume that black people are born every bit as motivated, capable, and hardworking as white people, then we have to also assume there’s something wrong with our system. The same goes for poor whites who also get stuck in cycles of poverty.
3. If it is the responsibility of the wealthy to share with the poor, why are so many Democrats millionaires? Shouldn’t they be sharing the wealth?
A lot of Republicans are also millionaires. But the Democrats are the ones who support policies that “share the wealth” and strive to level the playing field. With that all said, both the Democrats and the Republicans have contributed to policies that have increased income inequality and hollowed out the middle class.
4. If socialism works, what happened to Venezuela?
Venezuela’s economy — and its oil assets — have been poorly managed, which left them poorly prepared for the drop in oil prices. On the other hand, there are plenty of thriving and innovative socialist economies, including Germany, Norway, and Sweden. And strangely, Bolivia’s economy is also performing well despite being as militantly socialist as Venezuela’s.
5. If gun control works, why are the most violent cities in America the ones with the strictest gun laws?
It’s complicated…and for starters, it’s still too easy for criminals to buy guns illegally. In Europe you rarely hear about the kind of mass shootings and gun violence we have in the U.S. Furthermore, Switzerland has a thriving gun culture with a high percentage of people who own guns. Yet they also have a much stronger culture of safety, civic responsibility, discipline, and support. “If people have a responsible, disciplined and organized introduction into an activity like shooting, there will be less risk of gun violence,” a criminologist told TIME.
6. If illegal immigrants are good for the economy, why didn’t they improve the economy of where they came from?
Because individuals have no more power to improve economies in other countries than they do here. Also the economies of many former European colonies remain crippled after being ruthlessly exploited.
7. Do you think it’s wise to reward people for breaking the law?
Do you think it’s wise to have immigration laws that are unfair, inconsistent, and ridiculously difficult to navigate? After all, Mexico is our neighbor and an ally. Their people come here to pursue economic opportunities like our own ancestors did back in the day (with the exception of native peoples). [CORRECTION NOTICE: As a reader pointed out, I should have said: “with the exception of native peoples, African-American descendants of slaves, and descendants of the many servants, sex workers, and convicts.” I deeply apologize for this and don’t know what the hell I was thinking.]
People also cross the border in both directions because of family ties. For example, the Tohono O’odham Nation‘s tribal lands have straddled the border along the U.S. state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora since long before that border existed.
In any case, do you think only undocumented immigrants should be punished and not the employers who exploit their cheap labor and get away with driving down all of our wages? The reason our system works this way is because these employers benefit from having a docile labor force with no legal rights. The quickest way to discourage illegal immigration would be to force their employers to pay US wages.
Also, when it comes to Central America, part of why people in these countries suffer from poverty and rampant gang violence is because of our meddling and toxic foreign policy. The least we can do is grant our neighbors asylum.
8. If the police are violent racists, why do you want them to be the only ones with guns?
I don’t want police to always have guns either. Especially the ones who are violent racists. Also, I don’t think all of our police officers are racist, but they are charged with enforcing the laws of an inherently racist system. They’re also put at great risk by our lax gun laws, which is why many (though not all) oppose the radical expansion of gun rights in recent years. Police in other countries somehow manage to enforce the law without arming themselves to the teeth and constantly firing on their fellow citizens. That’s also partly why I support gun safety laws: Because our police officers shouldn’t have to fear for their lives while patrolling our communities.
9. How is blocking a highway improving black lives?
Because black communities keep trying to tell us that we are treating them unfairly and we refuse to listen or address their complaints. Blocking highways is how Black Lives Matters protesters employ their constitutional right to free speech, This seems to be one of the few ways they can get any media coverage, other than having another unarmed black teenager get murdered. After all, freedom of speech is no use if no one can hear you.
I think it’s sad that we’re more outraged by having our white privilege interrupted occasionally while commuting than by the fact that we’ve been allowing our police forces to terrorize communities of color.
10. Where was your outrage when the Obama administration sold weapons-grade uranium to Russia?
The Obama administration didn’t sell weapons-grade uranium to Russia. However, plenty of Democrats vehemently objected to the Iran deal including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y., Obama’s U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
Democrats have frequently objected on principle to President Barack Obama’s positions on various issues like prosecuting Wall Street bankers, drone warfare, and NSA spying. Many liberals have also cried foul on Hillary Clinton’s email server and ties to Wall Street.
Meanwhile, we’ve barely heard a peep about the Trump administration’s Russian ties, conflicts of interest, and rampant corruption. This feeds into the perception that the GOP puts party over country.
11. If Christians are evil for not celebrating gay weddings, what are Muslims who throw gay people off of buildings?
Fundamentalists of any Religion are intolerant, cruel, and dangerous. Christians are no exception.
It’s not just that Christians don’t “celebrate gay weddings.” They torture their own children by subjecting them to “conversion therapy.” This barbaric practice includes various forms of interrogation, psychological abuse, and electroshock “therapy” that often drives victims to suicide. In fact, conversion “therapy” is widely seen as a form of child abuse and has been outlawed in eight states.
Right-wing “Christian” churches across the U.S.also constantly preach hate and violence against LGBT people. It’s unclear how many would throw gay people off the tops of buildings because that practice is still illegal in this country.
The things I hear come out of some of these preachers mouths make me seriously doubt we’d be any better off under “Christian” theocratic rule than people are under Sharia law.
12. If Christians are evil for not supporting abortion, what are Muslims who stone women to death for having one?
Both are cruel and intolerant and interfering in something that’s none of their goddamn business. A free and just society is one that allows women to decide when and whether or not they want to have children.
13. If conservatives are anti- woman for expecting them to buy their own birth control, what are Muslims who don’t even allow women to drive a car?
Both US conservatives AND the Muslims are anti-woman because they are restricting women’s freedom for no other reason than because they’re women. As for “expecting them to buy their own birth control,” I do expect women to buy their own birth control. Through their health insurance and our healthcare system, because birth control is an integral part of women’s healthcare, and access to healthcare is a basic human right.
14. Why does it cost over 40,000 dollars to adopt a child, but only 3,000 to kill one?
For starters, adoption through an agency costs from $5,000-$40,000 with the average being $28,000. It costs little to nothing to adopt through the foster care system, but most prospective parents want infants.
Adoptions can be expensive partly because birth and prenatal care cost a lot of money — given our unnecessarily expensive healthcare system — to ensure that the birth mother and her baby stay healthy during and immediately after the mother’s pregnancy. It’s also expensive because of all the legal, counseling, and other services involved.
But in any case, the cost has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose. Women and teenage girls should not be forced to bear children so someone else can adopt them.
When push comes to shove, the problem with any anti-choice argument is that whether or not you consider an embryo or a fetus to be a human life in its own right depends on your religious views. And in this country, it’s unconstitutional to impose our religious views on others.
15. If marriage is slavery, why do you support it for homosexuals?
Um, no one is saying that any marriage entered into of free will by two consenting adults is slavery. I don’t know where you’re getting it from.
16. If there are so many genders why are there only 2 different genitals?
Because our identities do not reside in our genitalia.
17. If guns cause crime, why do we surround the president with armed men? Aren’t we putting him in danger by doing so?
Guns don’t cause crime. Unregulated guns cause crime…And mass shootings.
18. If Republican states are so poor, why do we have the most retirees?
Because retirees have fixed incomes that don’t depend on the proximity of well-paying jobs for that income. Nor do they need good public schools, because they’ve already raised their children. It’s great that Republican-run states are more livable for retirees, but attracting people on fixed incomes is not an ideal strategy for economic growth.
19. If Democratic states are so rich, why are they always borrowing money?
I don’t know where you got that information, a link would be helpful. In the meantime, here are the total state debt rankings (as a percentage of GSP, from lowest to highest) from the non-partisan States Project:
The 10 states with the least debt are GOP-run states. But otherwise, both red and blue states are scattered throughout the rankings. Only two of the top 10 states — Hawaii and New Mexico — are solid blue.
Oh, and by the way…Most Republican states take more money from the federal government than they put in, though this is slightly less true than it was in 2008. But as of 2017, red states remain far more dependent on federal funds than blue states.
Also, please note: Our national debt has historically grown higher under Republican presidents than under Democratic presidents. So Republicans should stop pretending they’re brutally slashing public services and handing tax cuts to the rich for the sake of fiscal prudence.