Fast Food’s Addiction to Conservative Politics

How can you resist an article with a lede like this one, from MoJo’s Tim Murphy?

Mitt Romney has a complicated relationship with fast food. He likes pizza, but insists on scraping off the cheese before he ever takes a bite. He likes fried chicken, but only when the skin has been removed. He likes Big Macs, but only after removing the middle bun. He likes Coca Cola because, he explained in his 2004, book Turnaround, it reminds him of polar bears, but he rarely drinks it because he can’t have caffeine. On the trail, Romney has name-dropped Carl’s Jr. and spoken of the wonders of WaWa, but subsists mainly on granola he carries around in one-gallon ziplock bags.

But Murphy, of course, has a serious point to make: about the fast food industry’s heavy support for Romney and for Republican politicians and political causes generally. I knew about most of the individual examples he offered–most notably my home state’s Waffle House, whose CEO, Joe Rogers, is a big-time GOP muckety-muck who once thought about running for governor, and Chick-fil-A, whose founder Truett Cathy may still be friends with Jimmy Carter, but now gives exclusively to Christian Right agitators (and was on the stage at Liberty University when Romney gave the commencement address there earlier this year). And then there’s Herman Cain, of course, and Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan, who built the right-wing Catholic college in Florida where Rick Santorum explained how mainline Protestants were followers of Satan. But I never put it all together. I guess it’s obvious a non-growing industry with vicious competition would be heavily dominated by people obsessed with keeping wages and benefits for workers as meager as possible. There’s that and more, says Murphy:

Among some chain restaurants’ preferred policies: the lowest possible wages for workers and few (if any) benefits; tort reform to discourage lawsuits (McDonald’s, you’ll recall, was the defendant in the famous hot coffee case); anti-union legislation; no new nutritional and food safety standards; and a crackdown on consumer-friendly statutes like the Patients Bill of Rights (fiercely opposed by the National Restaurant Association).

I don’t patronize fast food restaurants much these days, unless I’m traveling or back in Georgia, and now I’m glad I don’t for reasons other than personal health.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.