Tomorrow, Jeb Bush returns to South Carolina after a busy week of making headlines for all the wrong reasons. On his last trip to the Palmetto State, he made a point to insult African Americans by saying they only support the Democratic Party because of “free stuff.” He then hopped on Fox News to double down on his insulting claim. His comments were just one of the many times he’s made offensive remarks about Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and just yesterday, Native Americans.
With his poll numbers lingering in the single digits, who knows who he’ll offend tomorrow…
Yet public largesse helps support the lifestyles of Americans of every race and class — including governors from wealthy families.For example, taxpayers have long been able to deduct interest paid on a home loan from their income when filing taxes, giving them a substantial tax break that you could fairly describe as “free stuff.” According to a Wonkblog analysis of his federal income tax returns, the Republican presidential candidate has personally avoided at least $241,000 in taxes by deducting the interest on his mortgages since 1981.
Not only is there a supreme irony in this racial condescension that casts black people, whose free labor helped establish the prosperity of this country and who were systematically excluded from the full benefits of that prosperity for generations, as leeches only desirous of “free stuff,” this line of reasoning also infantilizes black thought and consciousness and presents an I-know-best-what-ails-you paternalism about black progress.
It wouldn’t be a presidential campaign if we didn’t eventually hear a wealthy Republican candidate contemptuously dismiss the unwashed masses for reaching out their endlessly grasping fingers for government largesse, and Jeb Bush has now obliged.
You may have forgotten that after the 2012 election, Romney blamed his loss on the fact that President Barack Obama had given “gifts” to various groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and young people, gaining their loyalty with handouts. In other words, free stuff.
Jeb’s is a message that might work if it came from his political protégé Marco Rubio, a child of immigrants and product of Miami-Dade County public schools. But Jeb is the scion of a generations-old political family and the product of Phillips Andover Academy. From then on, whether in his real estate or political pursuits, Jeb’s career was nurtured through the extensive Bush family relationship network.
For the first time ever last night, late night went “black-to-black,” as Larry Wilmore put it at the top of Monday’s Nightly Show. And he used the newly-increased exposure to go after Jeb Bush for accusing Democrats of courting black voters with “free stuff.”
“The only time black people would have voted for free stuff would have been for Abraham Lincoln when the stuff they wanted to be free was themselves!” Wilmore told Bush to applause from the audience. “What is this weird racist word association that’s going on in your head?”
The derisive assertion that black voters are looking for handouts that the Democratic Party is leaping to offer in exchange for support has been a long-running meme among Republicans. Most recently, in 2012, then Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney who was roundly lambasted for saying at an NAACP event that he would rebuff black voters interested in “more free stuff.”