Bill O'Reilly gave himself the self-proclaimed title as Culture Warrior. He argues that he looks out for everyday folks. But is this true? I will argue with a resounding 'NO'! To look out for everyday people you cannot claim that people simply want stuff when they vote. As O'Reilly said on during the 2012 election night coverage on Fox,
The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama's way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”O'Reilly then went on to say a week later on his nightly opinion show,
So it's more about Romney's failure to build on McCain's vote than Obama doing anything. A stronger candidate would have defeated the President. Mr. Obama won the woman vote, blacks and Asians. But it was the Hispanic vote that really nailed Romney; 71 percent of Latinos voted for the President. And that was the difference in Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. Other states were impacted as well.
Romney took white males and Independents by significant margins. But when you bunch it all up together, when you bunch it up, it was an entitlement vote this year. American families earning less than $30,000 a year broke big for the President; 62 percent to 35 percent. So it's clear that left-wing ideology did not win the day for Barack Obama, big spending on federal programs did.
Lets look at his comment on election night first. What does O'Reilly mean by 'the white establishment'? O'Reilly referenced this once before (actually, it was the White, Christian, male power structure) during an interview with Presidential candidate John McCain. Is O'Reilly arguing that whites (males in particular), as an establishment, ought to remain in power because in traditional society they were the dominant force? To claim that there is an 'establishment', if we go by the definition of the word and assume that O'Reilly isn't using the word in a special case, there must be a structure of power in place. And, as O'Reilly claims, this structure is in decline. We can deduce that O'Reilly is uncomfortable with this scenario because the structure that is replacing the white establishment are voting blocks that simply "want stuff" and voted, as seen from the second block quote, for entitlements. Furthermore, these voting blocks are poor. Thus, if these people want stuff and are poor, then they just don't want to work hard to pay for health insurance or contraception. Also, if the poor just vote for entitlements, then O'Reilly is suggesting that they are not intelligent enough to vote for what is good for the country or for themselves. This is evident when he states that, "The key question going forward is whether the secular-progressive movement is good for Americans, regardless of their ethnicity or economic conditions, and the answer is no! Minorities are more affected by poverty because the traditional family unit has broken down."
But is O'Reilly correct? Is it true that, if you vote for President Barack Obama, then you will receive free things and that citizens are unaware that their votes are actually harming themselves? Again, my answer is no. O'Reilly argued twice, once on his show and once in his debate with Comedy Central's host of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart that individuals can receive disability insurance more easily under the Presidency of Obama. How does he support this claim? O'Reilly states on his show, "So why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim." In the debate he states, "No one begrudges people who needed a safety net, but right now we have this mindset, 'You know what? Times are tough, I'm going to take what I can take.' Let me ask you this: do you know what federal disability is now, under President Obama? It's almost double, alright... So is the workplace that much more dangerous since he came into office?" When responding to Stewart's retort that Obama has not made it easier to receive disability, O'Reilly states, "No, but more people are applying for it. In other words, it's the mindset."
Thus, O'Reilly's entire argument rests upon his belief that Obama magically changed the mindset of the people when he became President, despite not making it easier to receive benefits. Furthermore, it seems as if O'Reilly is claiming that these people were once good, traditional Americans and then gave up because Obama was elected. This is implied when O'Reilly claims that the mindset has changed. Obviously, if their mindset has changed it must have been different than it is now; that is, they did not want to receive government benefits before Obama was in office. Does O'Reilly have this uncanny ability to know the mindset of why individuals applied for disability? Of course not. It is just another unfounded conservative assumption to denigrate those who receive government benefits and to claim that they do not deserve such benefits. What are O'Reilly's requirements to be under the safety net so he won't begrudge them? He doesn't say. Thus, there is no constraint in his argument that differentiates those who deserve benefits and those who do not. O'Reilly simply mocks the idea that there is an epidemic of arthritis just when Obama is elected. However, this mockery is contradictory. As Stewart notes, "The largest increase in disability is people ages 60 and above, and it's not people dropping bowling balls on their foot and not wanting to work anymore, it's arthritis." Since O'Reilly is not on record defending cases where people are denied benefits, but is on record here begrudging those who do, then we can safely deduce that the only requirement to be on disability one must be on their deathbed. Other than that you are on your own!
And to top it off, O'Reilly is not even correct. He is wrong in his generalization because, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states, "The growth in the program can be attributed to changes in multiple factors,including demographics, the labor force, federal policy, opportunities for work, and compensation (earnings and benefits) during employment" (pg. 2). Also, O'Reilly is wrong to blame Obama. It was Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon, in 1984 who signed into law, as O'Reilly states, the mindset of claiming disability. That is, the mindset was already in place 28 years earlier than Obama's Presidency,
In 1984, lawmakers enacted the Disability Benefits Reform Act, which expanded the ways in which people could qualify for the DI program. That legislation, in addition to reversing several of the cost-containment measures enacted as part of the 1980 Social Security Disability Amendments, shifted the criteria for DI eligibility from a list of specific impairments to a more general consideration of a person’s medical condition and ability to work. The legislation allowed applicants to qualify for benefits on the basis of the combined effect of multiple medical conditions, each of which taken alone might not have met the criteria. It also allowed symptoms of mental illness and pain to be considered in assessing whether a person qualified for admission to the DI program, even in the absence of a clear-cut medical diagnosis. The easing of the eligibility criteria increased the importance of subjective evaluations in determining whether applicants qualified for benefits (pg. 8).Thus, it was a Republican that created the so-called mindset and it was the rapid change of particular circumstances that just so happened to be in place when Obama took office.
As for my story, as most of you know, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor last February. I am on disability and I also applied for Social Security. This may be a surprise to O'Reilly, but my claim for Social Security was actually denied because they determined that I am not disabled enough to stop working, despite the fact that the reasons that my claim was denied are actually wrong. But if it is so easy for people to receive benefits when you have arthritis, then why isn't it easy to receive benefits when you have a brain tumor and have fingers that are numb due to a brain biopsy? It seems like O'Reilly has created a mindset where he is unable to perceive facts and where he must denigrate his fellow Americans who need help due to unfortunate circumstances just so conservatives can preserve their rich, privileged, elitist establishment! Or, as Romney would say, save the 53% of Americans and remove the 47% who are dependent on these government benefits.