We need to talk.
I know that protecting your children from terrorism, and all the overt and covert warnings issued by the GOP about how America will meet its fiery death if Democrats should seize control of our national security, will be foremost in your minds when you go to the voting booths in a few weeks.
But indulge me for a moment, while I give you something else to consider. Let’s call it our domestic security.
It’s the kind of security that comes from knowing your job is safe, you’ve got good health insurance, your kids are getting the kind of education that will make them competitive and open doors of opportunity in their future, the air you breathe and water you drink isn’t poisoning you, you’ve got enough well-equipped cops and firemen to protect you, and your elected representatives take things like the sexual exploitation of children seriously.
How’s all that working out for you under the GOP leadership?
Jobs: Americans haven’t been doing so well on the job front. A lot of the new jobs being created are temp jobs, part-time jobs, or service-industry jobs that don’t offer decent wages or benefits like health insurance. And there’s that little problem of outsourcing. The Bush administration assures us that “The movement of U.S. factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation.” So, I guess if you’re willing to be one of the families to experience that pain and dislocation for the good of all the rest of us, then no problem. If you aren’t, well, it’s just something to think about.
Healthcare: We’re all hearing about the increasing number of Americans, especially children, who aren’t covered by health insurance these days, which is bad, to be sure, but nothing to worry about if you’ve got coverage, right? Well, let’s talk about the families who are covered for a moment. “The average cost of a family insurance plan that Americans get through their jobs has risen another 7.7 percent this year, to $11,500, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In only seven years, the cost has doubled, while incomes and company revenue, which pay for health insurance, haven’t risen nearly as much.” Ouch. That hurts, but at least you’ll safe should disaster strike. Of course, if you lose that increasingly expensive coverage, not only will you not be safe, but your savings won’t be safe, your house won’t be safe (and less safe than ever, thanks to that bankruptcy bill!), and your kids won’t be safe. Just something to think about.
Education: As it turns out, No Child Left Behind was just another of Bush’s Orwellian-themed policies, as lots of kids are being left behind—because it just doesn’t work. In addition to being an unfunded mandate that subverts a well-rounded education by necessitating “teaching to the test,” there are other problems like a 22% decline in arts instruction, which is pretty sucky when you consider that music helps kids learn. And then there’s the problem with what they’re learning. Your mileage might vary on the appeal of watered-down science taught alongside creationism, based on how much you love GOP Jesus, but America’s future as an economic player is contingent on at least some of our kids having an interest in—and understanding of—real science. Abstinence-only sex education is problematic, too, no matter how nice it might look on paper, because there’s a little thing called human nature that always seems to get in the way. But there I go talking about science again. Anyway, just something to think about.
The Environment: Well, what can I say that Al Gore hasn’t already said? The way things are going, if the Bush administration doesn’t pull its head out of the energy companies' collective ass and do something significant to move us toward alternative energy, your kids are more likely to die from a global climate crisis than a terrorist attack. Just something to think about.
First Responders: Most of us, even in the smallest, sleepiest towns, will have some need to call upon our local police or firefighters sometime during our lives, and we rest easier at night with the knowledge that if a fire starts or someone tries to hurt us, help is always at the other end of 911. The problem is, the Bush administration doesn’t have much interest in making sure cops are well-funded, nor firefighters. And when a job is too big for local law enforcement and firefighters, the reserves usually step in, but most of them are in Iraq. No funding has been provided to help out with replacing the many cops and firefighters who themselves are in the reserves, and therefore policing the streets of Iraq instead of protecting the streets of America. And while crime inevitably climbs due to fewer officers and less funding, Bush also let the federal ban on assault weapons expire. That we’re all less safe from regular old crime and fires, and have fewer resources to deal with a terrorist attack should one occur, is just something to think about.
Keeping Kids Safe from Predators: This is a complicated problem, to be sure, with no readily available perfect solutions. But the Bush administration Justice Department has failed miserably on several occasions to effectively address this issue, including most notably their utter failure to follow-up on evidence against 1,500 pedophiles offered by a sexually exploited minor. Something else worth noting is the way that the GOP deals with sexual predators in its own ranks. (And why are there so many perverts in the GOP’s ranks, anyway?) Take, for instance, erstwhile Florida Congressman Mark Foley, who resigned after it was revealed that he’d been sending inappropriate emails and sexually graphic IMs to underage former Congressional pages. It turns out that the GOP (including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader John Boehner, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds, and others) knew about his odious shenanigans for months, but did absolutely nothing about it. They even let him continue to co-chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Does that sound like a party more keen on protecting children, or on protecting themselves? Just something to think about.
There’s a lot more where all that came from, Security Moms, but I’ve already given you a lot to consider, so I’ll leave it there for now.
Next time, we’ll talk about how safe little Johnny, who prefers his sister’s Barbies to the G.I. Joes you keep buying him, will be in his future.
(Crossposted at Ezra's place.)