Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy defeated Sen. Mary Landrieu in last Saturday's runoff election, handing the Republican Party their eighth pick-up and a 54-seat majority when the new Senate convenes in January. The victory broadens the already massive shift in that region's politics: the deep South is now as red as a fire engine, with nary a Democratic senator or governor across nine states spanning the Carolinas to Texas.
In his victory speech, Cassidy proudly made clear his constituency:
"We are a working-family region," Cassidy said. "The Republican Party is the party of the working people."
The problem with this declaration is that it is 100 percent patently false. Unless of course he's referring to another GOP, not the one that's vehemently against raising the minimum wage, or providing health care coverage for all Americans, or regulating Wall Street and banks, or seeking to dismantle the Department of Education or the Environmental Protection Agency, or cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, or fighting immigration reform, or protecting the interests of Corporate America. Shall I go on?
As for Cassidy himself, let's take a peek inside his own Congressional record in terms of his support for the little guy:
-Voted YES on terminating the Home Affordable Mortgage Program
-Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package
-Voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act
-Voted NO on four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees
-Voted NO on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program
-Voted YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion
-Sponsored prohibiting abortion information at school health centers
Hardly the record of an advocate of the poor and middle class. But Cassidy and his party are certainly crafty enough to convince an appreciable segment of their base that words matter way more than actions. Haven't poor and middle class white, rural conservatives been duped and disappointed by the GOP in the past? Apparently they have short memories, and voting against one's own economic interests still rules the day.
To be sure, right-wingers love to attack liberals for being in bed with Hollywood and the entertainment industry. But the GOP claiming to be "the party of the working people" is as big an example of fiction and fantasy as anything coming out of Los Angeles.
After the New Year, it'll be the first time in eight years that the Republican Party has controlled both houses of Congress. America's working people will soon find out how much Cassidy and the GOP will value and protect their interests.