The largest population of food stamp and government assistance recipients live in red states, and they tend to vote Republic. Despite this, the Oklahoma Republican Party had no problem sharing a viral Facebook post that compared people in the SNAP program to wild animals.
Don’t Feed The Republicans
“Red states” are some of the largest consumers of government programs. This is true in both older data — the famous “Red State socialism” graph that appeared in 2008 — and in more recent information. For instance, a story covered by the Business Insider in 2011 took a look at the difference between federal spending and the state and federal taxes received. The states receiving the most federal money were mostly red states.
Now, for some states, like New Mexico, there might be different reasons (most of the state is owned by the federal government; this is true for many western states), but states like Mississippi or West Virginia don’t have that excuse.
Republicans like to feel high and mighty, and they like to talk a good game about “hard work” and the “American Dream,” but when it comes right down to it, many of them are just as poor as anyone else — they’re just in denial about it, or they’re so cloaked in white resentment that they’re willing to cut their nose off to spite their collective face.
The Republican Party feeds on this denial, and the Oklahoma Republican Party is just the latest example of this.
Posting on its group Facebook page Monday, the Oklahoma Republican Party noted that, “The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.”
They added, “Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals. Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’ Thus ends today’s lesson in irony #OKGOP”
This isn’t the first time the Republican party has kicked their own base in the teeth with backhanded remarks. During her unsuccessful bid for South Dakota’s open Senate seat, Dr. Annette Bosworth shared a similar viral image with nearly identical text.
In March of 2012, Minnesota Rep. Mary Franson posted a video that referred to the same viral text. Her district includes some of the poorest counties in the state.
In 2010, Andre Bauer, South Carolina’s then-lieutenant governor, compared people on SNAP with stray animals and suggested cutting their benefits so they wouldn’t “breed.”
Anyone with conservative friends has seen the post on Facebook before; it’s a favorite of conservatives who think they’re making a clever point about “independence” from the state and federal assistance.
The real reason those signs exist isn’t to keep the animals from getting lazy. In zoos and the wild, it’s because the animals have specific diets and feeding them can cause vitamin deficiencies, but in the wild, it’s also to avoid the spread of zoonotic diseases by making the animals comfortable around humans. And having animals that are comfortable around humans is especially bad if that animal is a bear.