Maybe Politicians Should Just Stay Away From Food

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For politicians, food is a tool. The right meal signals your connection to the people. You are just like your voters — a normal person with reasonable concerns, not a megalomaniac hell-bent on amassing power. Of course, more opportunities to engage in food culture mean more opportunities for scrutiny, whether it’s the public razzing former New York mayor Bill de Blasio for eating pizza with a fork, or journalists analyzing the implications of how Donald Trump likes his steak. And let us never speak again of Senator John Coryn’s Christmas brisket.

But sometimes, in their quest to come across as honest and relatable, politicians make things harder on themselves. Take Mayra Flores, a Texas Republican who was the first female Mexican-born member of the House. Flores opposes same-sex marriage, called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a dream come true,” and is currently running again for Congress after losing her seat last year. She also has a history of posting photos of food — typically Mexican food — on her Twitter, with captions about being a proud home cook and the joys of life on a ranch. The problem, as a recent investigation from Current Revolt points out, is the photos weren’t hers, but instead taken from various websites and passed off as her own.

For instance, she captioned one photo of bread and stew being cooked over a fire with “The Ranch life with family is the best,” and specified in comments below it that the bread is “gorditas de masa.” But an extraordinarily simple Google image search shows the photo was actually from the “Visit Guyana” Facebook page. Another photo of eggs and tortillas on a griddle was posted by the Facebook page Izabal Magazine in 2021. She has done things like this quite a lot over the years, according to Current Revolt. Flores did not respond to Eater’s request for comment, but told the Texas Tribune that it was not her “intention to mislead.”

This is some gleefully low-stakes political drama, but it also points to the importance of food in a campaign, and to Flores’s willingness to lie to enhance her appeal to voters. Seeing a basket of tortillas in the foreground of a horse ranch, or a plate of beans on a picnic table, conveys a message of down-to-earth realness, especially accompanied by messages of how much she values God and her family. That she would take photos from other accounts, including photos that aren’t even of Mexican food, shows how important that image is.

On some level this is all too obvious. Of course social media is artifice. Of course a politician’s image is not to be immediately trusted. But it bears repeating that everything a politician does is done to be seen, to be liked, and to be voted for again. That doesn’t mean those actions are inherently bad. Just like on our own social media feeds, experiences and opinions can be both true and public. And just like on our own feeds, things are curated to tell a certain story. So as we enter an election year, a reminder to stay skeptical, even of photos of fried eggs. And let’s cross our fingers this is the worst political drama we get this year.

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