Remember when former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich openly called for letting Social Security “wither on the vine and die”? Apparently, at least one Republican is taking that sentiment a dark step further in Indiana.
Indiana GOP candidate John Johnston is campaigning to oust current Democratic state Rep. Chuck Moseley. And he doesn’t seem to want poor people to vote for him, or live for that matter. In a rant on Facebook, Johnston wrote that government should let poor people “wither and die.” In the process, he implied that he supports killing government programs that prevent those in poverty from starving, freezing, becoming homeless, or dying in the first place.
“For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts. They have been ‘enabled’ so much that their paradigm in life is simply being given the stuff of life, however meager. What you see is a setting for a life of misery is life to them never-the-less. No one has the guts to just let them wither and die. No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22… People simply are not hurting enough, or simply happy enough that they will do nothing. Consequently the dole continues.”
Johnston isn’t the first Republican to advocate for punishing the poor severely. Last fall, House Republican Kevin Cramer posted a Bible verse that also appears in the Soviet constitution calling for unemployed people to starve. Two years earlier, it was Tea Party Rep. Michele Bachmann saying the same thing during her failed run to become President.
Of course, when Republicans talk about starving the poor, they forget the fact that most of those living in poverty actually live in red states. In a graphic put together by Pew Research, it was discovered that the people who rely the most on government assistance to survive live in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Maine, and Arkansas, which are all currently controlled by the GOP and their conservative economic policies. In short, Republicans who call for letting poor people die are talking about their own constituents.
The outrage over Johnston’s callous comments drew a non-apology apology from the candidate. According to The Post-Tribune, Johnson claims he wasn’t “trying to hurt anybody” and then he proceeded to compare poor people to children and repeated his call to gut government anti-poverty programs.
“I was not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. I saw the opportunity to say something. I think a lot of the poor have no way out, and there’s no motivation to improve your position. It’s like training a child, either you enable them or force them out at some point… My main point is that the programs are used as political tools. Sometimes it hurts, but you might give them less to motivate someone to get a job.”
Cutting aid for the poor isn’t the same thing as sending your child out into the world to make their own way. Johnston cannot possibly be saying that he would refuse to help his own kids if they couldn’t find jobs and were hungry. In fact, many kids these days have to live with their parents just to get by because the economy is still weak due to Republican obstruction in Congress and the conservative policies they put in place that caused the recession to begin with. But people who struggle in poverty do not choose to do so. That’s one of the most moronic claims conservatives have ever made. One of the conditions for receiving federal aid is that the recipient must continue to be seeking work. However, even then, sometimes finding a job isn’t enough to pay the bills and put food on the table, forcing many to still accept government aid. Many people have jobs, yet are still below the poverty line because wages are low. If Republicans want to fix that little problem, the solution is simple. Raise the minimum wage so that millions will be lifted out of poverty and won’t have to rely on government aid anymore. Furthermore, anti-poverty programs aren’t “political tools.” They are programs that save the lives of children, adults, and senior citizens every day. Unlike Republicans, they actually help people. If the GOP wants less people to need these programs, they should get off their selfish asses and work to build a more fair economy that doesn’t just benefit the wealthy.
Once again, a Republican is calling for letting poor people die all the while being clueless as to how government aid works and why people need it. This has become part of the GOP line of thinking that sets conservatives far apart from true Christian beliefs that demand we take care of the hungry, the jobless, the sick, and the suffering. Comments like Johnston’s prove over and over again that the Christian Right is neither Christian nor right about anything. They demonstrate that Republicans hate their own constituents and want to make Americans suffer. That’s something we should all remember in November when the opportunity arrives to make their political fortunes suffer the consequences of their heartlessness.