Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

February 26, 2014

Candidate takes on Obama

(Continued)

Nowadays she’s a regular on Fox News, but in the final weeks of her campaign she’s had to turn the recent revelation of her 1997 shoplifting arrest into a political asset by using it as a jumping-off point for the story of her formative years: how she survived being “surrounded by gangs, drugs and gun violence” in the Dallas metro area, and being brought up by a mother who gave birth to Pierson at age 15, gave her up for adoption and then re-entered her life, but who couldn’t provide her with the guidance. For a long time, she said, she lived in an environment where the “government-assistance system of welfare” meant living in “a cycle of poverty” and “a society where government is in full control.”

She’s less specific about what she believes to be the nexus between her personal struggles and the government, but she’s not the only black conservative who inveighs against the social safety net with her upbringing as a backdrop. As GOP rising star Chelsi Henry wrote earlier this month in The Root, her family “received government assistance” when she was a kid, but she now believes in “less intrusive government,” and that her own success was in spite of, not because of, federal help.

The difference, perhaps, between their stories — in the context of well-worn Republican tropes about the perils of welfare dependency — is that Pierson’s mother is white.

When I asked Pierson about the specific concerns of black voters, she was most animated on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, which she opposes and believes, if passed, will put more immigrant workers in competition with African-American workers for blue-collar jobs.

On voter-ID restrictions, she dismissed my suggestion that state legislatures were enacting laws designed to suppress voter turnout, and insisted that GOP support for voter-ID laws was “solely based on voter fraud.”

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