For those of you who have not read or subscribe to the Columbia Missourian, here is my column of April 10, 2013.
More cases of GOP foot-in-mouth disease
I get it. I really do. On a national level, the Republican Party lost their proverbial shirt and pants in 2012. On a state level, it was a bit different. The GOP holds the majority in most state chambers and governors’ offices. In Missouri, it is in control of all legislation with veto-proof Republican chambers.
Watching national and state GOP politics push to be more inclusive is fascinating. From RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, to House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to Missouri’s own state and local leaders, it seems that everyone agrees; without the support of the “minority communities,” the GOP will continue to falter.
The problem is that the GOP cannot control the strong-arm extremists, the “extreme right-wing right-wingers,” embedded into its ranks and who now steer the party politic. The Republican Party might soon find itself renamed as the “The Titanic Party.” Here I mean the RMS Titanic, not “colossal.”
There is a multitude of GOP leaders who are not helping the party with their own Philippic rhetoric, now targeting America’s working poor. On the federal level, Tea Party favorite Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., “introduced (federal) legislation that would require states to randomly drug-test 20 percent of their welfare recipients.”
Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry wants to change the law requiring that all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and unemployment recipients be tested for drugs. In aposting by the governor’s office, “The governor noted that the purpose of TANF and (unemployment insurance) is to provide temporary assistance to individuals and families, not a permanent replacement for employment.” It is a “wonderful” use of a slippery-slope argument.
Though the statement was made in November 2012, the YouTube video has resurfaced and is making the rounds in liberal and conservative chat rooms with equal fervor.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed a similar law for his state in 2012, after a U.S. District Court struck down Florida’s version as being unconstitutional.
When the number of working poor is at an all-time high, when jobs are still scarce with the majority, and those in need come from our minority communities, Republican elected officials are not helping the situation. That includes Missouri.
Missouri Rep. Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi, and Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Poplar Bluff, are also targeting the working poor. They have their devoted followers; yet their current political positions — “the working poor need to get better jobs, so we’re cutting off benefits” — are not making it any easier for our minority and lower-income communities to welcome and join the elephant in the room.
On April 2, Cookson introduced HB1040, which “(s)pecifies that school age children of welfare recipients must attend public school at least 90 percent of the time to receive benefits.”
Not to be outdone, Fitzwater stepped into the fray. The Riverfront Times reported that during an interview concerning the Affordable Care Act and some “525,000 Missourians to be eligible for healthcare premium tax credits” in January 2014,Fitzwater volunteered the following insight concerning the working poor receiving TANF aid.
“When you go to the zoo, there’s a sign that says please don’t feed the animals. There’s a reason, because they (the animals) keep coming back.” There are much better analogies that could have been used.
The Twitter responses Fitzwater garnered can be summed up simply, “Paul Fitzwater compares Missouri’s working poor to ‘zoo animals.'” The working poor are the very people the GOP needs to attract, not to vilify or call “non-human.”
These are only a few examples of the national and state GOP allowing foot-in-mouth disease to run rampant through their ranks, insulting the very people they want to attract — the working poor. They do know the cure, but the RNC is afraid of taking the next step, cut out the disease and recover a bit more centrist.
As long as the GOP allows the “extreme right-wing right-wingers” and conservative special interest groups to direct the party’s direction; as long as their leaders continue to ignore all signs of impending doom; and as long as their leaders continue to denigrate those they seek to attract, they will fail.
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