Today’s nominee for most maddening, hypocritical and self-serving tradition in the world of politics is the spectacle of politicians who dedicate the their professional lives to de-funding public services — especially those that serve people in need — solemnly preaching to us on holidays and/or when the weather is bad about the importance of helping the poor.
Here’s North Carolina’s ultra-right, anti-public safety net Lieutenant Governor this morning on Facebook:
“With these incredibly low temperatures sweeping across our state, let us not forget all of those less fortunate than us. Last month First Lady McCrory and Alice Forest teamed up with the Durham Rescue Mission for a canned food drive. We have been informed that over 2,500 cans of food were collected, and nearly $2,000 donated!
With the cold weather we are experiencing this week, the Durham Rescue Mission is expecting an influx of people. Thank you to to everyone who donates their time and resources to causes like this across our state. Your generosity will ensure that nutritious meals will be available for all who come.”
Isn’t that special? The same fellow who crusades on an almost daily basis against Medicaid expansion, unemployment insurance and any number of other essential safety net programs that would actually make a difference for low income people is all about tossing a few cans of food (and maybe a night in a shelter) to the poor when the weather is bad.
Chris Fitzsimon rightfully described this noxious phenomenon this past Thanksgiving as “cynically suspending the blame.”
“But there’s a disconnect somehow in the holiday message and the rhetoric we hear from many political leaders and right-wing pundits the rest of the time.
Low-income families and unemployed workers don’t fare so well in their press releases and talking points then.
Instead they are portrayed as lazy, people who are living off the government, who aren’t looking hard enough to find a job.
They are ‘takers’ we are told, the 47 percent that Mitt Romney so famously derided in the 2012 presidential campaign.
They need to help themselves, pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Those are the clichés and the stereotypes we hear about the poor and the unemployed in Raleigh and Washington, that helping people who are struggling only breeds dependence and makes them less likely to do what they need to do to lift themselves out of poverty….
Remember all that the next time you see a politician at a soup kitchen during the holidays asking for your support.
And give generously this holiday season if you can.
And then demand that the politicians who seem so compassionate this time of the year remember low-income families when the holidays are over and stop blaming them for their plight and start adopting policies to help them.”