Springville Journal editorial: They said what?
Saturday August 25, 2012 | By:Lizz Schumer | Editorial
SPRINGVILLE — Politicians: turn your attentions to the teleprompter. No, really. Please. The 2012 election cycle is in full swing and our elected officials and their mouthpieces are stepping in it left and right, even right here in Springville. Are these verbal gaffes just slips of the tongue, or glances behind the carefully-crafted message curtain? You decide, America.
At the Springville Chamber of Commerce legislative forum on Aug. 16, New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan’s aide, Todd Aldinger, let us know that he doesn’t want to hear from the little people. If his comments are in tune with Gallivan’s, neither does his employer.
According to Aldinger, the only way for local business owners, citizens or voters to get legislative attention is to “have someone from [a legislator’s office] talk to them.” In other words: if you don’t work for a politician or have a direct line to one, don’t bother.
“The minimum wage was never designed to support a family,” Aldinger said later. “It’s designed for people to enter the workplace for the first time ... it was never meant to be a living wage.” Tell that to the 11.4 percent of workers in Erie County who are living on a minimum wage, as compared to 10.1 percent, statewide.
On the national stage, it just gets worse. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, told KTVI-TV, “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that [pregnancies from rape are] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The American public must not have been paying attention when Akin went to medical school.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told CNN, “I’m concerned about ... the 90-95 percent of Americans who, right now, are struggling. You can focus on the very poor; that’s not my focus.” This is coming from the guy who also said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans. I bet his speechwriter just loved that one.
Foot-in-mouth disease is not limited to the GOP, either. In a speech he gave in San Francisco in 2008, President Barack Obama said, “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and ... the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Should we really make fun of bitter people who are clinging to guns, Obama?
I could go on, but our elected officials and elected-hopefuls will doubtless provide plenty more fodder for discussion as November approaches.
While these run the gamut from appalling to entertaining, it is not the disconnect between the politicians’ speech cards and their mouths that worries me so much as the distance between their tongues and their brains. As the season wears on and we head to the polls, let’s make sure we hire the men and women who represent us, not only when they stick to the script, but when their true colors show through the rhetoric.
We’re listening closely, folks of election 2012. And when it comes time to vote, the “little people” will get a chance to speak, too. You know, the bitter, gun-toting, codependent, insignificant poor who are foolishly trying to live on minimum wage.
Guest editorial written by Lizz Schumer.