Newt Gingrich was in Minneapolis earlier this month to campaign for the Republican candidate for governor, and to try out his new slogan for the 2010 mid-term national elections, “Food Stamps Or A Paycheck.”
Actually, he had formally introduced the slogan in his national e-mail newsletter a day earlier, and it had already provoked a response from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused Gingrich of going after the poor. Judging by her response, and that of local Minnesota Democratic (DFL) politicians after Gingrich’s remarks received wide
TV and radio coverage in the local evening news, the slogan is working as the former Republican house speaker intended.
The election of 1994 is often cited
as the precedent for 2010, but there are significant differences between that year and this one, including the important fact that the party in power has been amply forewarned they are in trouble.
On the other hand, as pundit Michael Barone has pointed out, the economic statistics are much worse this year. Barone suggests that 2010 may be more like 1894 than 1994. That was the year the turnover in the U.S. house was well over 100 seats, and more than one-third of number of house members at that time.
It isn’t very complicated. Unemployment is high, the value of most Americans’ net worth is way down, the international situation is rife with danger, insecurity and threats. The Obama administration has created a radical and very unpopular healthcare program that will exacerbate most of our other problems.
When Mrs. Pelosi and other Democrats attack the “Food Stamps or a Paycheck” slogan as an attack on the poor, they actually play into their opponents hands. Mr. Gingrich is not saying that there should not be food stamps, but he is saying that getting a paycheck is better than depending on food stamps.
Virtually every American voter knows that, and when a political party seems more interested in defending welfare than in finding a way to create more jobs and to get the nation out of its economic doldrums, they are in more trouble than they realize.
This year’s election is not yet over, although most observers are saying to themselves “This pie is baked.” What everyone is expecting now is that the Democrats will lose lots of seats in the House and perhaps retain control of the Senate. That is the new conventional wisdom. What few are expecting, however, is an utter rout of the dimensions of 1894.
If Mr. Gingrich’s “Food Stamps versus a Paycheck” gets to the nub of the voters’ concerns, as I think it does, the conventional wisdom will prove wrong one more time on election day.
BARRY CASSELMAN writes about national and international politics and public policy for Preludium News Service. Copyright © 2010 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved. www.barrycasselman.com.