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The party of petit bourgeois tyrants


This is a point that can’t be made often enough. The Republican Party is not a party of the working class — it’s a party whose real core is local business owners who want cheap, disposable labor with no rights of protections:

The small-business tyrant is, to borrow an argument from the writer and podcaster Patrick Wyman, an especially reactionary member of America’s landowning gentry: local economic elites whose wealth comes primarily from their ownership of physical assets. Those assets, Wyman explains, “vary depending on where in the country we’re talking about; they could be a bunch of McDonald’s franchises in Jackson, Mississippi, a beef-processing plant in Lubbock, Texas, a construction company in Billings, Montana, commercial properties in Portland, Maine, or a car dealership in western North Carolina.”

To look at Republican politics at the state level is to see an economic agenda dominated by the worst of this particular class.

Last summer, for example, in the midst of a dangerous heat wave that put thousands of lives at risk, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a law nullifying local rules requiring water breaks for outdoor workers. The law targeted provisions passed by officials in Austin and Dallas that gave construction workers a 10-minute break every four hours. “For too long, progressive municipal officials and agencies have made Texas small businesses jump through contradictory and confusing hoops,” said Dustin Burrows, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill. Burrows, it should be noted, is a small-business owner himself.

Can you believe the JACKBOOTED THUGS at the city council think that people doing backbreaking labor in searing heat deserve 20 MINUTES OF BREAKS in a single 8-hour workday? This is the new Gulag!

More recent is a Florida bill, signed into law this month by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that similarly forbids local governments from setting heat exposure rules for workers. Backed by business groups, the law also prevents governments from “maintaining a minimum wage other than a state or federal minimum wage.” Even if a city wants one of its vendors to provide a higher wage than the statewide minimum of $12, it can’t. “Small-business owners don’t have the time or the resources to navigate a confusing and contradictory array of local ordinances that go beyond” what “the state already mandates,” said Bill Herrle, Florida director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Consider, as well, a Kentucky bill that would, if enacted, eliminate workers’ rights to lunch and rest breaks. Federal labor law does not require employers to offer either. The purpose of this bill — introduced by State Representative Phillip Pratt, a Republican — is to “modernize” Kentucky labor law to match the federal standard, or lack thereof. Pratt, who owns a landscaping business, says that he would continue to offer those breaks.

Earlier this year, Pratt also sponsored a bill to weaken Kentucky’s child labor laws, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work longer hours. “Our current statutes and regulations unnecessarily restrict the number of hours needed to work, often preventing them from seeking an opportunity to help them pay for college, learn new skills and prepare for the future,” Pratt said. The bill passed in the House and awaits a final vote in the Kentucky Senate.

And last week, in Louisiana, a Republican-led Statehouse committee voted to repeal a law mandating lunch breaks for child workers. Sponsored by State Representative Roger Wilder, who owns Smoothie King franchises across the Deep South, the bill is part of a larger effort to strengthen employers and weaken labor unions in the state. “The wording is ‘We’re here to harm children,’” Wilder said, responding to the bill’s critics. “Give me a break. I mean, these are young adults.”

All across the South, teenagers are coming to the SMOOTHIE KING OF LOUISIANA and demanding to be freed from the unspeakable bondage of lunch breaks!

This is the essence of Republicanism, and Donald Trump is its perfect exemplar.

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