Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Being elitist isn’t the issue; it’s whether you understand and solve problems

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Originally published on on Tue, 04/15/2008 – 5:52am

Food stamp currency

by Chad Rubel

Do we want a president that drinks Heineken or Pabst Blue Ribbon? Do you care?

I’ve been dubbing movies onto DVDs lately. “Blue Velvet” happened to come up over the weekend, and I couldn’t help but think of the classic scene where Dennis Hopper’s character (Frank Booth) asks Kyle MacLachlan’s character (Jeffrey Beaumont) what he wanted to drink.

Frank Booth: What kind of beer do you like to drink, neighbor?
Jeffrey Beaumont: Heineken.
Frank Booth: Heineken? F*ck that sh*t! Pabst Blue Ribbon!

The message from David Lynch, the movie’s writer and director, is clear: Heineken is an elitist beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon is the beer of the “common man.” But does a beer choice say much about how a president will lead?

We want a president that is smart, bright, and visionary. And we want a president who bowls and drinks a shot of whiskey. Does any other country put their potential leaders through such humiliation?

I do want a president that understands that people are struggling, even if they never have. I do want a president who knows not only how much milk and gas costs, but also what that means as a percentage of the “common man” income level.

John Edwards is richer than I will ever be, short of winning a major lottery payoff. But he does care about those who economically struggle; the fact that he is rich makes him more sincere, not less.

In an ideal world, I would like to see the major candidates struggle even if it’s for a short time. I tipped my hat to the politicians who last May tried to live off the average food stamps allotment.

Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) went one week and lived on $21 worth of food, the average allotment from the food stamps program.

As hard as that sounds, this was last year before the food prices skyrocketed.

I don’t care how much money these representatives have or whether they do indeed use Grey Poupon on their food. I don’t care if they lift their pinkies when they drink their tea while eating finger sandwiches at 4 p.m. As long as you step up when this country needs you, that is what matters.

I don’t care if you bowl a 37. I don’t care if it takes you a few sips to down a shot of whiskey. As long as you step up when this country needs you, that is what matters.

I grew up in a small town. I know how to bowl (highest game ever: 230), shoot pool (I’m not good, but I can do it), and drink a shot – in one gulp. But I buy whole-wheat spaghetti, and the fancier mushrooms, and the high quality potato chips. So what kind of president would I be?

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain — all richer than me, all have probably enjoyed nicer things than I have. They probably have couches and dining room tables that they bought first-hand, instead of mine from a resale shop. But none of that matters.

Want to really impress me? Do what those Congressmen did. Eat for a week on $21, or whatever the current average is for a week of food stamps. And it won’t kill you, we have four Congressmen and millions on food stamps who will testify it can be done.

You can be elitist for all I care as long as you understand what we are dealing with, and you work hard to solve those problems. That is being a true leader.


Written by democracysoup

April 15, 2008 at 5:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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