From this Saturday's Up with Chris Hayes, a really wonderful segment talking about the generational divide we've seen between younger and older voters with party affiliation, the difference in the ages we've seen at these “tea party” rallies as opposed to those at Occupy Wall Street, the wealth gap between households over 65 and those under 35 and the differences between the social safety nets afforded our seniors and those for younger Americans.
As Chris went on to explain, it makes for some interesting and complicated dynamics when you look at how those differences are being played politically by the Republicans.
HAYES: The politics of all of this are far from straightforward, because the central democratic irony of American politics at this moment, is that those that most benefit from the social welfare state, people over 65 are the most conservative cohort, the demographic most aligned with the party committed to its destruction.
So Republicans need to marshal support for undoing the social welfare state while simultaneously promising their base they'll get to keep their part of it. It's a rhetorical two-step they've perfected. The first step is to cloak their contempt for the universal benefits of social insurance in the righteous mantle of defending future generations. They want to gut the welfare state and scrap some of the most successful programs in the nation's history on behalf of the grandchildren.
They hate to do it, really, but they must, to make sacrifices now for those in the future to prevent bankruptcy... for the grandchildren.
Cut to clips of John Boehner, Rand Paul, Joe Walsh, John McCain and Mitt Romney all fearmongering over the national debt and on how we have to “save” Social Security and Medicare for future generations and “the grandchildren.”
HAYES: See, the kids and the grandkids, that's who they're doing it for. But then the second step... and this is the key, is to tell current seniors and boomers, not to worry. We won't be scrapping your benefits. No. Heavens no.
Cut to Mittens, saying that current seniors don't have to worry about changes to Social Security.
HAYES: Let's all remember that Paul Ryan's plan to phase out Medicare, the one that every single Republican member of the House voted for, wouldn't apply to anyone over 54 years of age.
So the rhetoric the right employs is that they are the courageous guardians of the interest of the nation's grandchildren, but what they're actually proposing is to maintain the same benefits for the grandparents and then destroy it for the grandchildren.
If there's a more disingenuous aspect of modern conservative rhetoric, I don't know what it is.
As Hayes noted, you can see those same politics at play when it comes to the issue of climate change as well and the GOP being more worried about their campaign donations in the short term than the long term health of the planet for their grandchildren as well. This was followed by a panel discussion with Michael Eric Dyson, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Elizabeth Holtzman and Rick Hertzberg where it was rightfully pointed out that Republicans have always wanted to destroy Social Security and Medicare since the day both of them were enacted, the fact that Social Security can easily be made solvent by raising the cap on payroll taxes and the fact that the Republicans are not only engaging in class warfare, but age warfare as well.
Here's the panel discussion which followed the segment up top.