In August 14th’s episode of The Ben Shapiro Show, the conservative pundit disputed Kamala Harris’ claim that Americans often need two jobs to support themselves fully.
Shapiro argued: “The fact is, if you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken a job that wasn’t paying you enough. That would be a YOU problem.”
As a conservative activist for the past decade, I err on the side of pragmatism when it comes to elections and voter bases. The right has a problem with messaging. Shapiro’s ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’ approach alienates a large number of Americans struggling to survive and who are burdened daily with economic issues rooted in bad public policy.
The right puts pundits like Shapiro on a pedestal simply for their aptitude at trolling leftists—while forgetting that in our country, the state of the economy was the decisive factor in recent elections.
Trolling Americans by labeling and dismissing their challenges as a “YOU problem” will cost us come election time.
In a divided country, where the DNC has effectively seized control of urban areas, Republicans strategically seek support in rural America. This makes our inability to connect to the struggles of everyday Americans all the more alarming. Student loans, poverty, and racial issues are everyday hardships that concern all American voters—minorities and majority demographics included. Trolling them by labeling and dismissing their challenges as a “YOU problem” will cost us come election time.
As the Left grows ever more radical with their policies, blatantly advocating for socialism, we cannot afford to cede this much ground. The impact that radical socialist policies would have on our country would be long-lasting, causing significant economic and social setbacks. When pundits like Shapiro resort to polemics and gaslighting, trying to convince Americans that their struggles aren’t real, instead of providing policy solutions that would help lift them out of poverty, that forces everyday Americans to see capitalism as an enemy instead of a system brimming with opportunity.
I want to contextualize this through my own lived experience for a moment. I had to take on three jobs while attending college to set myself up for any savings at the end of the month. What Shapiro fails to realize is that in many areas, the price of goods and taxes are sky-high. The cost of living is the reason why many Americans must take two jobs to afford a roof over their heads and ensure that they can put food on their tables.
I look up to all of the kids and adults working two jobs—I want to shake their hands and say, “I’m proud of you. Hold tight. You’ll make it.”
To make ends meet, I had to work from 6 to 9 in the morning as a foreign language tutor. I only took older clients because their schedules allowed me to teach in the morning before I had to head to my second job. At my second job, working finance and management for a hotel, I worked a 9 AM to 6 PM shift, getting off just in time to go leave for law school, where classes started at 7 PM. At 11 PM, I was heading home to prepare dinner and study; I would regularly find myself hanging on three hours of sleep during the week. On the weekends, I worked real estate and property management.
Ben Shapiro believes I should have refused these opportunities; I think he is wrong.
There is nothing inherently wrong with struggling, and if it weren’t for my struggles, in the beginning, I would not have had the great career that I currently have in finance. These valuable experiences have cultivated in me a strong work ethic. Once I immigrated to the United States, I had developed enough skills to be hired for a better paying job—the kind Shaprio imagines grows on trees. I look up to all of the kids and adults working two jobs—I want to shake their hands and say, “I’m proud of you. Hold tight. You’ll make it.”
The message that Mr. Shapiro shared is not only disrespectful to these hard-working people, it is also dangerous for the conservative movement, and ultimately our country. The more we alienate voters, blaming them for their economic hardship instead of recognizing it as a public policy failure, the more we marginalize citizens facing real adversity.
Conservatives must find a way to appeal and connect to the struggles of everyday Americans, and stop endorsing public figures that are just as out of touch as the liberal elites. There is much at stake when it comes to politics, and we must be wary of those using divisive attacks to weaken us rhetorically, morally, and politically.
There are intellectual communities available to us with conservative thought leaders that favor reasoned argumentation over bullying and gaslighting. That is where conservative advocacy should migrate.
Unlike Ben Shapiro, most conservative pundits have not lost touch with everyday Americans.
That would be a you problem, Ben.