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May 07, 2014 12:10 PM Thom Tillis Makes My Point in His Divide & Conquer Video

By Martin Longman

Following on my last piece on Why Resentment is Key to Conservative Politics, I want to introduce you to the winner of last night’s Republican senatorial primary in North Carolina, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who will be challenging Senator Kay Hagan in November:

Here (via TPM) is the transcript of Tillis’s remarks in that video, which was made in 2011:

“What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance,” Tillis said. “We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice, in her condition, that needs help and that we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, ‘You’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you.’ And we’ve got to start having that serious discussion.”
Tillis went on to say that discussion wouldn’t happen until at least 2013.
“It won’t happen next year. Wrong time, ‘cause it’s going to be politically charged,” Tillis said. “One of the reasons why I may never run for another elected office is that some of these things may just get me railroaded out of town. But in 2013, I honestly believe that we have to do that.”

Now, looking back at my argument that making people hate each other is the core of right-wing politics, you can see it in its most naked form here. He’s quite honest that conservatives need to get people who are genuinely in need because of a medical illness or something else that they cannot control to actively dislike other people who are getting public assistance. The idea is that Republicans can get people in genuine need of public assistance to vote against public assistance (and for Republicans) by getting them to hate other people on public assistance. If you have cerebral palsy, you’ll vote for Thom Tillis over Kay Hagan because Thom Tillis is going to cut the public assistance that you need. You’ll do this because you’d rather not get the help you need than see someone else get help that they may not need it as much as you do.

This is how rich people can convince poor unfortunate people to vote for Republicans, which will allow them to keep more of their money and go about their business in as unregulated a manner as possible.

In this case, the racist aspect of this is buried. Tillis is dividing the world into those who genuinely need assistance and those who are basically freeloaders. And he’s pitting them against each other. But the people who are harmed are the people who genuinely need assistance, and the people who are helped are the tax-averse folks who benefit from Republican policies.

When you start off with the view that 47% of the population are “takers” who get public assistance or pay no taxes, you need to set that 47% against each other and get some of them to vote for you because they believe you will beat the crap out of the folks they don’t like. If you don’t do this, you’ll never win.

But, what if there were a right-wing party that wasn’t just a tax and regulation-averse vessel for plutocrats? Could they maybe compete without cranking up the hate machine and pitting Americans against each other?

Maybe, or maybe not. But a hate machine is what they have, and they never stop inflicting it on the rest of us.

[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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