The Hater Party: How Right-Wing Candidates Have Turned Hate Into Political Currency

"Unemployed workers are lazy welfare queens," said Sharron Angle, running for Senate in Nevada under the Tea Party banner, in one of her many speeches laced with vitriol and hate for families living in poverty in the U.S.


From New York to California, from Sharron Angle to Meg Whitman, the running theme of hundreds of political campaigns supported by the so-called Tea Party and its Republican counterparts is hate: hate for us poor mamas, poor people of color, poor families and immigrants.

"I will end the welfare system as we know it and I will crack down on sanctuary cities for immigrants," said Meg Whitman, the billionaire Republican who is running for governor of California. She and others have built their campaigns on a perceived baseline of racist and classist hate that exists in the U.S. for poor folks and immigrants and people of color. Even if this perceived hate isn't actually there, it is fueled by a constant stream of disinformation and lies that rolls, unchecked, through corporate-owned media and out of the mouths of corporate politicians.

"Instead of handing out welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check, we'll teach them personal hygiene," said New York's Tea Party candidate for governor Carl Paladino, who is running on a platform riddled with myths and lies about poor families and the measly subsidies we get. Paladino has proposed to transform New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, to teach us "hygiene" so we can "work" for our checks. Again, either because of his own ignorance and arrogance and/or to fuel the baseline fascism of the U.S., he fails to mention that us poor parents who receive the tiny amount of cash aid from the state always have to work for that subsidy through the welfare-to-work program -- work we have done for years. There is in fact no "free money" in the U.S. scarcity model of welfare.

From calling migrants "terrorists," as Angle has done many times, to claiming that we need to incarcerate "illegals" for just being "illegal," as Whitman has said many times, all of the Tea Party and Republican candidates have consistently used immigrants of color to fuel hate and a perceived racism that apparently lurks everywhere in the U.S. But does it? Is this overt racism and hate for the poor really here? Or is it crafted like a well-oiled Hitlerian machine meant to birth a national hate toward someone, anyone, as long as it's not the corporations that keep stealing our resources, killing families and poisoning land across pachamama (mother earth).

"You are the reason Arnold Schwarzenegger is in office," my welfare case worker spat through clenched teeth in one of my food stamp evaluation meetings. My already sad heart dropped to the floor as the words tumbled angrily from her lips. I'm not sure why she said this to me, maybe for no reason except to make me feel like less than the gum on the bottom of my shoe and/or to make her feel a moment of hegemony-fueled power. But as I watch the current batch of politicians top each other with hate speech for the poor, I continue to wonder how hate became political currency in the U.S.

"There but for the grace of god go I," goes the old saying my mama used to say to me about folks sleeping on the street below our rundown East L.A. apartment window. Then, after my mama became disabled, unemployed and without resources, there we were, on the street, in our car, sleeping on top of all of our clothes, being viewed as trash, bums, lazy, and all the other ways people are stereotyped and silenced with words and names and casual hate.

One of the reasons Whitman, Rand Paul, Paladino, Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and all of the Tea Party/Republican members continue to use poor mothers and children and immigrants is because they can. Because we don't own Clear Channel or YouTube, NBC, ABC, Fox or the New York Times. We don't own the channels of information and access, and so we can be easily lied about, talked about, disrespected with hateful impunity.

"We want to make all of California a sanctuary state," said Carlos Alvarez, the unheard gubernatorial candidate of the Peace and Freedom party, in response to my question in a recent interview on PoorNewsNetwork, on the party's proposed policies on immigration.

Not only are the "other" candidates, i.e, candidates not running on hate or multimillion dollar campaigns, shut out and silenced, sometimes they are even arrested like Laura Wells of the Green Party, when she attempted to attend the billionaires club debate of Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. Which is why the inclusion of Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, in a recent debate in New York was so revolutionary.

"Landlords, we are coming to get you," he said. Since his recent involvement in the debate, McMillan has raised money and gained massive popularity across the country, which leaves me thinking that the deep racism, classism and hate that fuels the Tea Party is based on the ongoing exclusion and silencing of truth, and true voices.

Which is why I, a poor mama who has been called a welfare queen, lazy, trash, and all kinds of other classist and racist slurs, who has have spent my life making sure that my voice and the voices of my fellow poor folks are not only heard but listened to, recognized and included, have a proposal: I think that we should rename the euphemistically titled Tea Party and all its Republicrat friends and supporters, the Hater Party. And if goddess forbid, they win a majority rule in the Senate and the House, the U.S. should be known for the next four years as Haternation.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close