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The Kitchen Table: The Most Important Piece of Furniture in the American Home


The Kitchen Table: The Most Important Piece of Furniture in the American Home

By Jay Arrington August 30, 2018 

When you hear politicians say Americans want to talk about “kitchen table issues”, what comes to mind and how can that term be broadly extrapolated relative to the American experience? Furthermore, if all politics is local what is more local than the kitchen table that occupies a space in practically every home? Assuming of course most Americans have kitchen tables what makes kitchen table issues such a hot button political term? Full disclosure, depending on what I’m eating I sometimes stand at the kitchen counter.

Most might say the kitchen table is where families discuss family issues or the things affecting their daily lives collectively, or individually. I on the other hand see the kitchen table for its intended purpose, the piece of furniture that represents the most important thing people need, food. That’s right, food. This is what makes the kitchen table the issue or more to the point what goes on the table, food. As such, I am always perplexed to hear people say, “their kitchen table issues differ from mine.”

After all, isn’t making sure that we put food on the table and provide for our family something that we all have in common? If that is true, why would anyone be upset with a candidate who wanted to ensure that every American family has food on their kitchen table? Setting aside the other normal kitchen table issues, bill paying, tuition bills, vacation plans, and family health care coverage, other commonalities we share, what do abortion rights, transgender rights, LBGTQ rights, immigration fights, culture wars and tribalism have to do with the kitchen table?

Why do the things about which we disagree influence the things that we have in common such as the right to the basic needs of sustenance? Why would someone not want something to benefit their neighbor that would also benefit them? Why would someone rail against the rights of others to peacefully protest but in the same breath brag about how America is a country where freedom rings? As much as topics such as these in addition to those mentioned earlier might indicate that kitchen table issues go well beyond the economy they really don’t simply because at the end of the day the most important kitchen table issue remains what is or is not on that table, food.

Earlier I spoke about politics being local because there is a tendency for mainstream media to speak about cultural attitudes based on national polling results, but we don’t deal with one another based on polls or national attitudes. How someone in San Francisco deals with his/her local grocer has no bearing whatsoever in how you or I might deal with our local grocer. Individual relationships are just that, individual. Ninety percent of Americans believing there is no racial problem in America means nothing if five percent of the people where I live are racists who can affect my ability to put food on my kitchen table.

The word issue is defined as an important topic or problem for debate or discussion. If we are discussing things around our kitchen tables that are not problems for our families then it stands to reason those things are merely topics for discussion or debate and therefore should not be used to provoke disharmony or to formulate ways to deny others the opportunity to put food on their kitchen table.