House Republicans callously eliminated the food stamp program known as SNAP when they passed the farm bill on Thursday. Rather than helping hungry families put food on the table, Republicans were absolutely fine with giving millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to corporate agriculture. Essentially, the GOP said “we are giving money to corporations that produce food” and in the same breath said “too bad you won’t get to eat any of it, struggling American citizens.” So who stands to lose the most from the loss of this program, and did Republicans make a huge political error?
Well, the answer to both questions is plain as day when one considers the chart below. According to Pew Research, by eliminating food stamps, House Republicans are mostly punishing people who live in the states they represent, thus screwing themselves in the process.
Here is the chart:
As anyone can clearly see, the states affected the most by a loss of food stamps are run by Republican. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Maine, and Arkansas are all currently controlled by the GOP and their conservative economic policies. These policies have swept more and more people into poverty, thus increasing the need for food assistance. By killing SNAP, Republicans are denying their own constituents the food they need to keep from starving.
As noted in a previous article on Addicting Info, conservative voters have consistently voted for politicians and policies that go against their own interests and bring down the rest of the country in the process. Because of these policies, conservatives in these states have paid a heavy price. Low wages, little benefits, and less health care coverage has left many families at a bare subsistence level that requires government aid to take care of the most basic of needs. The need for such aid contributes to why red states are the real welfare states, leaving blue states to pick up the tab.
Most people can withstand the loss of a job, health care, and maybe even their homes and still vote for the same political party, even if that party’s policies are the cause of many of their misfortunes. But hunger is an entirely different circumstance all together. Hunger leads to starving and starving leads to death. Indeed, hunger is so serious that it can cause people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do out of sheer desperation; that includes voting against their own party.
Our own recent history should be enough to illustrate what people will do when a recession nearly cripples the economy and harms the finances of millions of people. Rather than vote for John McCain in 2008, Americans elected Barack Obama to the White House, placing Democrats in charge of the executive and legislative branches for the first time in decades. But there was another time in American history when tremendous hunger led to the greatest political shift ever seen in this nation and Republicans nearly became an extinct party.
The year was 1932. The Great Depression had been causing American suffering for three long years. Republicans had been firmly in control of both houses of Congress and the presidency throughout the 1920s up to 1932. Unemployment reached 23.6 percent and hundreds of thousands were homeless. Just as many, and even more, also suffered from hunger. There were no food stamps programs to help people get by in 1932. Despite the few useless Republican efforts to help people during this hard time, people were still struggling and the situation only worsening when the GOP simply refused to use the power of government to help solve the problem, relying instead on charities, churches, and other organizations to deal with the situation. Sound familiar? Can anyone guess what happened next?
During the 1932 presidential election, Democrats captured the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Most Republicans had been driven out of Washington by a very desperate American population, and hunger was most certainly a huge factor. By 1937, there were only 17 Republicans in the US Senate and 89 in the House, their numbers having decreased each year since 1930. It would be decades before the GOP would fully recover from the major losses. America, however, would recover even sooner, as the new Democratic policies stopped the economic bleeding and began strengthening the country by actually helping people. Imagine that.
Keep in mind that prior to 1932, America had been in love with Republican policies rooted in rugged capitalism. What began as a prosperous era soon turned into a disastrous one with Republicans and their rugged capitalism, and small, do-nothing, government policies at the helm. And Americans thoroughly punished them for it. Could today’s Republican Party suffer a similar fate?
Republicans currently control most of the states that have the highest concentrations of food stamp program recipients. By eliminating the program in the farm bill, House Republicans are sending a message to their own constituents that their own party doesn’t care about them and their well-being. Due to Republican gerrymandering, many political experts believe that GOP seats are pretty safe at the state as well as the national level in 2014. But voting to kill food stamps may be a game changer.
The long term looks incredibly grim for Republicans due to the growing Latino demographic and the old age of the party in general. Younger people are voting Democrat, even in red states. But the long term game could take at least a decade. If enough conservative voters get angry about Republicans trying to take away their food stamps, however, that could translate into some big losses for the GOP in 2014. The standard GOP belief is that African-Americans use food stamps more than white people. That’s a big mistake. As it turns out, white people actually use food stamps more than African-Americans. How does this translate to 2014, you ask? Republicans pride themselves on being the party of white people. When your party loses nearly all of the minority vote in an election, you’re perceived to be only really supported by white people in both form and fact.
And since red states take the most government aid, it is logical to conclude that most white people who rely on food stamps live in a red state. In short, Republicans are voting to kill a program that will negatively impact the few voters they have left. Congratulations, Republicans! You’ve finally managed to find a way to alienate everyone.
Conservative voters, unfortunately, have short memories that are prone to manipulation. If the Senate and White House were controlled by the GOP, it’s likely the elimination of food stamps would become law, resulting in hunger that would surely cause conservative voters to switch parties. The only reason why conservative food stamp recipients will continue to be able to put food on the table for their families is because Senate Democrats will likely kill the House Republican’s farm bill. And if it makes it out of the Senate by some form of dark magic, President Obama has already threatened to veto the bill should it reach his desk. Will the average conservative in red states understand what their own party did or will they look the other way because the elimination of food stamps won’t actually happen because of Democrats? The conservative mind is a complicated thing to comprehend.
Nevertheless, Democrats have something to use to their advantage. They could literally make ad after ad highlighting how Republicans tried to completely annihilate food stamps, and run those ads in every red state. Volunteers could go door to door and tell people about the actions of House Republicans. It’s likely many poor whites in red states are aided by food stamps and would be very interested to learn how Republicans tried to take their food away from them. Republicans would then face backlash from the last major voting block they have left, which means red states could turn blue sooner rather than later. It’s just going to take major efforts to inform conservative voters about the actions of their representatives. The day when conservative voters wake up and see what their elected officials are doing will be the day Republicans regret pursuing their extreme agenda. After all, the threat of starvation is greater than political allegiance and ideology. It’s basic survival and Republicans are trying to make it harder to survive. By the time Republicans realize their mistakes, it will too late to save the Republican Party and yet another political realignment will have taken place for the betterment of all Americans. Just as it did in 1932.