Russell PearceRussell Pearce, a former Republican state senator, stepped down as the Arizona GOP’s vice chair after being blasted for bizarre comments made about women who receive Medicaid assistance.

You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get (female recipients) Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to (reproduce) or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.

I know there’s people out there (who) need help, and my heart goes out to them, too. But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community. No cash for Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, you’d only get money for 15-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and powdered milk – all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want a steak or frozen pizza, then you’d have to get a job.

This reminded me of a story from the late comedian Mitch Hedberg.

Once, while being driven from the Atlanta airport to the hotel, our cab driver started talking s***. He was creeping towards a racist rant. We were still a ways away from the hotel when it dawned on us that he felt super okay with being a hateful weirdo. 

Mitch leans forward, “Hey Man. Up here on the right is a deli that sells Boar’s Head Ham. Can you stop so we can grab something to eat?” 


Mitch returns with THREE subs. No one spoke for the rest of the trip.

Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”

From an everyday perspective, you could call Russell Pearce thoughts patriotism, ultra-nationalism, ethnic prejudice, or racism. Whichever the label, it is mired in the we-they prejudice that divides people, fosters hatred, and triggers violence – everything Buddhism cautions against.

Maybe Pearce just needs a sandwich. As noted by Hebberg’s wife, the lesson is spot on:

“Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”