This week Alexandra Pelosi debuted a new video on Real Time with Bill Maher. This video was meant to give contrast to last week’s video which showed Pelosi in Mississippi speaking with lower income conservatives. Many conservatives expressed outrage that Pelosi and Maher would “cherry pick” conservatives in order to show the party in the most negative light possible. Personally, I think that the party does that on its own, with or without the video… but, that’s another story altogether.
Before showing last week’s video, Maher promised that he would send Pelosi into the inner city to get the “other side’s” view. Last night, he kept his promise of a new video and showed the audience Pelosi’s latest installment. Instead of going to the inner city, however, she just went right across the street, from her residence, to the Welfare office where she interviewed several black men and one white woman. All were seeking government assistance in one form or another. One guy said he didn’t know what he was applying for, he just wanted whatever he could get. Another guy was asked why he was voting for President Obama and he said because he’s black, which contrasts the white conservative who said that he didn’t like President Obama because he is a “half-breed.”
All in all, this week’s video showed people who voted democrat because of their belief that they will get handouts if they do, again contrasting the conservatives who say that they would rather go without than have help. I am sure that the video outraged many liberals, but we all know that these people exists on both sides. The problem tends to come in when we try to paint an ENTIRE party with the same brush based upon the most negative, ignorant elements that exists within each party. This puts everyone on the defensive and we spend more time fighting stereotypes than being productive. (Which, I imagine, is by design.) I frequently post on the Huffington Post with my avatar showing me as a black woman, and while I have never once signed up for any government assistance programs and have never been on food stamps, people have implied that I am only a democrat because I want handouts. I don’t want handouts because I haven’t needed them, but I DO like the idea of a safety net considering the state of the economy.
In the end, the questions we have to ask are: Are all lower income conservatives racists who will not support a black president? No, but many are. Are all lower income democrats looking for a handout? No, but many are. That is what the videos showed, that these elements do exist and these people are voters. (Of course, many conservatives also accept handouts, but don’t acknowledge it as a handout… but, again, that’s another story.)
While I support the IDEA of what Maher and Pelosi have been trying to accomplish, I feel as if they didn’t go far enough to create context. In the case of this week’s video, I also do not believe that they did an adequate job of giving an exact contrast to the Mississippi voters that they interviewed. In MS, you clearly saw them speak with working class people, who we honestly do not know whether or not they accept any form of government assistance, or not. Considering that at least 40 percent of the people who receive food stamps live in households with at least one wage earner, that is a question that needed to be asked given this week’s trip to the welfare office in NY. Since Pelosi didn’t interview all food stamp recipients last week, this week’s video didn’t make sense in context.
Another place the video missed is when showing the doorman lament about those at the welfare office not having a job. In context, you would need to consider the jobless rate and whether or not jobs are available for those able bodied individuals. And you would have to also consider whether or not ALL of those going to the office aren’t working, as pointed out above. In the end, however, the men didn’t act as if they had any interest whatsoever in actually working. One man said he didn’t want a job, but a career… As if those are any easier to get.
Pelosi made a good point when referencing that we spend 700 billion on defense, in comparison to the 70 billion spent on government assistance programs. I also think she made a good point when she referenced the billions given out in corporate welfare. These are things that she should have discussed with the anti-handout crowd in MS. Republicans, that they vote for, support corporate welfare while stating that poor people don’t deserve any help. It would have been interesting to hear their take on that.
After it was all said and done, I was left feeling as if Ms. Pelosi really could have done a better job. The first video seemed as if she took the time out to travel through MS to find different people to speak with. (Although conservatives will argue that they were all the same TYPE of people.) The second one seemed as if it was hastily thrown together, and frankly, lazy. She only made one stop and it was to speak only with people looking for a handout.
Maher and Pelosi have managed to piss people off, showing those of whom both sides would rather keep buried, out of sight and out of mind. My issue with the video is completely different, however. I don’t mind that these people were unearthed, only that the videos lacked depth and context. As I’ve already said, I support the idea of what they did, so I am not offended… I imagine many black people will be because they may feel as if Maher and Pelosi are purposely playing into the stereotype that black people want handouts. Which is the argument that the right is making, only it’s for their side. So, there you have it. Something people on the left and right can come together on. And they said it couldn’t be done!
In closing, am I the only one amused by the fact that the welfare office had a DOORMAN? Really?