Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 279- The Party of Food Stamps

Dear Mr. President,

Newt Gingrich has labeled Democrats "the party of food stamps". I have an immediate and emotional reaction to this attack because my roommate is on food stamps. She works hard but barely makes enough money to pay rent and the rest of her bills. Without food stamps, she would be unable to afford to eat very much at all, and especially not the kind of healthy food that she needs as a vegan. (Also, to those who would claim her dietary choices are elitist: the food choices she makes require less fossil fuel to produce and impacts the environment less than the average omnivore.) When men like Gingrich, who have no concerns about where their next meal comes from, criticize people like my roommate, I get exceedingly, irrationally angry.

The number of people on food stamps is higher than it has ever been. I don't think boasting about plans to give tax breaks to billionaires while decrying a program that helps the poorest Americans meet their basic survival need to eat is an effective campaign strategy. Nor do I think the Republicans have offered an alternative to social welfare programs that will ensure the poor and those struck by sudden misfortune will have a safety net.

I haven't met any one on food stamps who isn't committed to finding a way off of them. It's mildly humiliating, and while some may be dependent upon them long-term, I think that most Americans on food stamps are doing so as a temporary act of desperation. Why on earth a wealthy man like Gingrich would think that attacking suffering and impoverished while they attempt to work their way toward independence is a mystery to me. I'm glad that you have always spoken about the struggling and less fortunate in such a way as to preserve their dignity. I don't think that the party of food stamps is an insult; it's as though Gingrich is admitting that while Democrats would protect the poor in their time of need, Republicans would rather see them starve.

Somehow I don't think that slogan will play well in November.

Respectfully yours,


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