Anthony also called out politicians for looking the other way when it comes to sexual abuse regarding minors, but one of the most criticized lyrics in his song refers to people who are on welfare.
“Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat / and the obese milkin’ welfare,” Anthony sings. “Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds / taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds / young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground / ‘cause all this d*mn country does is keep on kickin’ them down.”
In an article for Christianity Today, Hannah Anderson, a pastor’s wife who at one time had to use the welfare system to feed her family, expressed that Anthony’s viral song made her feel like he “doesn’t love his neighbors,” saying that Anthony’s words are “disdainful towards people on welfare.”
“I understand why so many feel ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ gives voice to their struggle. Perhaps the only thing worse than watching your hard work be exploited and your dreams go up in smoke is the sense that no one notices and no one cares,” Anderson wrote.
“But protest against wealthy elites and government corruption, no matter how justified,” she added, “cannot ride on the backs of others who are also suffering. The price of accessing food through SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] or a church food pantry must not be the poor’s dignity and self-worth.”
“It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me, like I’m one of them,” Anthony said in his video. “It’s aggravating seeing certain musicians and politicians act like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle—like it was trying to present the same message.”
Anthony continued, “It was funny seeing my song at the presidential debate because I wrote that song about those people. So for them to have to sit there and listen to it cracks me up.”
The song has “nothing to do with Joe Biden—it’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. That song is written about the people on that stage and a lot more, not just them, but definitely them,” Anthony added.
“I do hate to see that song being weaponized,” Anthony said, adding that the political right has attempted to characterize him “as one of their own” while the left tries to discredit him.
Response videos on YouTube have proven the song has reached a diverse group of people. Anthony said, “It’s not conservative people responding to the song. It’s not even necessarily Americans responding to the song. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything get such positive response from such a diverse group of people.”