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Powell: ‘Food stamps and stuff’ can control many votes

Strange as it seems, this year’s U.S. Senate campaign of wrestling zillionaire Linda McMahon may have been briefly trumped for cynicism if not for unscrupulousness.

The cynicism and unscrupulousness of the McMahon campaign reached its height on Election Day when it hired black people to work outside polling places in cities with largely black precincts wearing T-shirts with lettering declaring support for both President Obama, the Democratic nominee and, of course, the country’s first black president, and McMahon, the Republican nominee for senator. The shirts were in the style of shirts worn by members of the Service Employees International Union, which supported the Democratic ticket. The McMahon campaign’s idea was that black and lower-earning people could be easily fooled into connecting McMahon with the president.

Of course they weren’t fooled in the least. Connecticut’s cities delivered for all Democrats bigger than ever. But an interview done by the New Haven Independent with one of the hired T-shirt wearers in that city suggested that the McMahon campaign was just too late with its cynicism. For the T-shirt wearer said she would be voting for Obama and probably for McMahon’s Democratic opponent, Chris Murphy, because she didn’t think McMahon really supported the government benefits she receives, “food stamps and stuff.”

That is, McMahon couldn’t buy the vote of her temporary campaign worker in New Haven because it already had been bought.

The Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, was a caricature of a plutocrat, but behind his bumbling talk about the “47 percent” dependent on government for their income and the “gifts” bestowed on racial minorities by the Obama administration there is a serious issue.

Most able-bodied people receiving financial benefits from government want to work; while there are loafers, they do not yet constitute anything close to 47 percent of the population. And social welfare data lately is exaggerated by the long recession. Yet the ratio of workers to Social Security recipients is down to fewer than three to one. While that ratio is largely a matter of demographics, an age imbalance in the population, the ratio of workers to disability payment recipients is not, and that is down to 16 to 1 from 67 to 1 in the 1960s, when workplaces were far more dangerous and unregulated. Indeed, disability recipients are up 22 percent in five years.

Add food stamps, now feeding 14 percent of the population, the large number of government employees, and the increase in corporate welfare and bailouts and crony capitalism, and it’s not hard to see that the market economy that built the country is sinking.

And it doesn’t take 47 percent of the population to control politics and government. A special interest of only 5 or 10 percent can do it, especially if it is financed by government itself. That’s how Connecticut came to be controlled by public employee unions.

Of course those T-shirt wearers were the least of those paid by McMahon. As the Journal Inquirer’s Don Michak reported this week from campaign finance filings, McMahon paid huge amounts to leading Republicans throughout Connecticut. The lobbying firm of Republican state Capitol fixer Pat Sullivan collected at least $1.2 million. Former state Sen. Tom Scott got $136,000 and former state Sen. Louis DeLuca $185,000. Many other leading Republicans seem to have been paid by McMahon through intermediary vendors and so are not listed in the filings.

As the party strives to rebuild in Connecticut, the beneficiaries of McMahon’s equivalent of “food stamps and stuff” should be more completely identified. Some of them disparaged McMahon’s rivals or opponents in the party as RINOs, Republicans In Name Only. But those RINOs won many elections, and how could they be worse than those Republicans who sold themselves to a joke of a candidate who twice now has dragged the party down to humiliating defeats?

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Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

 

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