Commenters on another site where this cartoon appeared accused me of "playing the race card" with this one. I have to try very hard to put myself in the mindset of someone who thinks the Republicans' sudden interest in changing the way electoral votes are apportioned in certain swing states has absolutely nothing to do with race. This post by Jamelle Bouie in The American Prospect gives a nice rundown of the problem. Fortunately, it looks like that plan may be fizzling in my old home state of Virginia.
A few readers have pointed out that the "cow town = city of one million" phrasing is inaccurate, since districts all roughly have the same population. I agree that panel could be written better. But, as Bouie points out, the end result is a gross distortion of the popular vote that privileges the land:
In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state.
Romney was roundly mocked when he insulted 47% of the country, yet that didn't stop Bill O'Reilly from saying that half the country voted for Obama because they wanted stuff and things. Perhaps it's time O'Reilly directed his crusade against laziness toward his own intellect.
I'm growing increasingly worried about the impact of these noxious voter ID laws. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos wrote over the weekend about a lawsuit brewing in my home state of Pennsylvania, led by a 93 year-old woman who has voted in nearly every election for 60 years. She now finds herself unable to cast a ballot, thanks to the fact that the state lost her birth certificate. And Ohio now allows poll workers to refuse voters information about where to vote. And we dare to call ourselves a glorious beacon of freedom sauce? Warning to the rest of the world: DO NOT EMULATE.
Most people seemed to appreciate this week's cartoon, but I've noticed a couple comments elsewhere suggesting that I've been dishonest with my statement that more whites than blacks receive food stamps. These critics assert that because America's white population is significantly larger, a higher percentage of blacks receive nutrition assistance, and I'm a big fat liar for not presenting things this way. To which I say: these nitwits are totally missing the point.
It's no secret that poverty runs high among African-Americans due to a variety of historical factors, and I'm not trying to cover that up. Nor am I trying to pit racial demographics against one another. I'm simply pointing out that when you hear Republicans talking about people on food stamps, they tend to explicitly (or sometimes implicitly) refer to blacks, despite the fact that 5.15 million white households receive food stamps vs. 3.2 million African-American, as of 2009. The fact is, poverty is pretty diverse, and no one group should be singled out as "the food stamp people."
You'd think that decades in politics would knock the racist claptrap out of someone like Newt Gingrich, but, well, this is the GOP we're talking about. Instead, he just substitutes polite-sounding phrases like "African-American community" and "demand paychecks" for "those lazy blacks." How does one go about demanding a paycheck, anyway? I'd like to be able to do that, and have one show up. That would be cool.
The dialogue in the third panel refers to Ron Paul's Paranoid Kook Reports, which contained the theory that the LA riots only came to a halt because everyone went to pick up welfare checks. And right-wing noise machine poopshoveler Brent Bozell said on Fox News that Obama looked like a "skinny ghetto crackhead." Rick Santorum has also made similar comments to Newt's.
To be clear, my point here was not to pick on poor whites, but to criticize the singling out of one group when poverty cuts across multiple demographics. For data on food stamp usage, I looked at this USDA report (big PDF, via the ThinkProgress article linked above; page 75 has the breakdown) and this, which documents disproportionate rural usage, largely by children.