I spent a lot of time thinking about a topic for my last blog post. Do I write on the need for bipartisanship at a time when economic ruin looks more and more realistic as the days pass? Or, do I, again, focus on the proverbial question; that is, who is the GOP, and how might they respond to rhetoric calling for a major political makeover? To be honest, though, I’m sick and tired of Republicans, their disconnecting narratives, blatant hypocrisy, and lack of consciousness. But, for old time’s sake, I think I can handle one more post.
On November 19, Newt Gingrich, in analyzing Romney’s comments on Obama’s apparent “gift-giving” as President, and then later as a candidate, called the Governor’s statements “nuts” and “insulting.” In fact, Gingrich said: “…the job of a political leader in partisan politics is to understand the people.” See Gingrich’s appearance on ABC News here. As I deconstructed his comments, I couldn’t help but try to picture Gingrich’s empathy towards the American people. Did he not liken food stamps with Black voters on the campaign trail and, earlier, call Obama the “food stamp President?”
Meeting with N.H. voters in Plymouth, Gingrich said: “Now there’s no neighborhood I know of in America where, if you went around and asked people would you rather your children have food stamps or paychecks, you wouldn’t have a majority saying they’d rather have paychecks.” Interestingly, however, federal data (page 59, specifically) shows that the majority of food stamps recipients are not African-Americans, but non-Hispanic Whites. Tell me, does it look like Gingrich understands the people?
Moreover, the notion that Obama is “the best food stamp President in American history” is not only dishonest, but also offensive in light of negative, stereotypical associations between African-Americans and government assistance. Although food stamp usage has grown under President Obama, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) saw a 33% increase in 2011 versus 2009, it’s ridiculous to draw such conclusion without acknowledging the global financial crisis and expanding rate of unemployment that occurred thereafter. Between 01/2009-01/2011, unemployment consistently remained higher than when Presient Obama assumed office. How about now; does Gingrich understand the people?
What’s really appalling, though, is not Gingrich’s comments, but rather the sheer fact that we live in a world where politics is constantly disassociated from accountability and facts. It really bothers me that leaders today can get away with saying anything they’d like and not suffer consequences. Moreover, it seems as though many don’t even feel compelled to act responsibly at this point. I don’t mean to appear facetious or insulting, but as I witness some of the country’s most prominent civil leaders reinforce a political edifice based on rhetoric and fantasy, my motivation for pursuing a career in public service slowly cripples. On that note, time to go write about my future!
Joshua D. Wodka