Editor’s Note: Also authored by Logan Pike, a state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.
Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon shuffled his papers, looked steadfastly into the television news cameras, and announced his intention to veto welfare reform in Missouri, adamantly declaring to the audience, “I don’t sign bills that hurt kids—period.”
All the typical elements of modern political propaganda were in place. Operation Breakthrough, a single-site early education child care and social services facility, was the venue. Puzzled boys and girls awkwardly stood before a banner thanking Nixon, positioned perfectly to serve as the backdrop for cameras filming the event. The audience nodded in approval with each of Nixon’s proud declarations, as if to say, “Yes, what a cruel world we live in.”
It didn’t matter to Nixon that Missouri’s welfare program is a decade behind most of the country and recently earned a grade of “F” in The Heartland Institute’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card. Or that the very same welfare policies passed by his state’s legislature in the Strengthening Missouri Families Act are proven, time-tested reforms that have helped to reduce Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) rolls, also known as “welfare,” by more than 70 percent nationally since 1996. Nixon even knew there was a high probability his veto would be overturned, as it eventually was, by the overwhelming Republican majority in the General Assembly.
The only reason for Nixon’s predictable and distasteful dog-and-pony show was to perpetuate the never-ending, tired Democratic narrative: “Conservatives don’t care about the ‘little guy.’”
The “little guy,” of course, is anyone the Democrats say is being mistreated by whoever they deem to be the villain of the week: insurance companies, oil companies, business owners—maybe even an unenlightened, backwards-thinking redneck from a small town in Pennsylvania, the type who, as President Barack Obama explained to his supporters in 2008, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”
Gov. Jay Nixon. Photo by Missouri News Horizon.