by David T. Bruce
My family and I just returned to our small village after spending four days visiting Washington D.C. During our visit, we enjoyed the exhibits of a few Smithsonian museums, and we toured the obligatory streets and malls of the district in which resided the various presidential monuments and federal buildings, to include the Capitol and the White House.
Admittedly, I felt a sense of awe as we entered the District of Columbia via the George Washington Memorial Parkway and saw the Washington Monument behind a screen of haze and setting sun.
During our stay, I rekindled fond memories of the Apollo lunar program, satisfied the child within by exploring decades-old pop culture artifacts, and explored the history of the area that is our nation’s capital.
As a parent, I patted myself on the back for fostering the development of my children, introducing them to a history they had only skimmed in a text book or glimpsed in a Hollywood movie. At the same time, as a citizen, I became more cynical as each day passed.
While the architecture is beautiful, the streets are clean and well cared for, and the transportation system is exceptional, I became increasingly sensitive to the disparity between what the District of Columbia represented versus what the reality of America is for the better share of the population of this country. While our family toured a region of America symbolic of freedom and democracy, our Representatives and Senators, perpetually embroiled in a debate over how to spend tax payer dollars, were gridlocked to the point in which the government is at risk of being shut down.
As I conclude this writing, the two disparate halves of our government have somehow come to a consensus that allowed for the budget to be passed and the federal government to continue doing business. Of highest concern, however, are those items that contributed to the heated debate: budget cuts that most affected elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans. At the same time I and my family contribute tourist dollars to the District of Columbia economy, as our elected representatives and their families enjoyed the luxury of private schools, exceptional transportation, and an environment in which money is obviously no object, at least half of our nations representatives had the impudence to propose cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Planned Parenthood programs, directly affecting those who have little or no means to help themselves.
While the federal government proposes that funds be cut from the budget that, funds that support the elderly, disabled, and low-income citizens of America, and as the federal government proposes that states and the private industry (entities who are already in financial distress and have shown themselves to be incapable of providing adequate, affordable services) take over programs for the same, our government has exhibited little or no concern for these that have, as I say, no means to help themselves. Those representatives that have raised their hand in support of such measure should be ashamed.
As an American and a father, I too feel shame, as I lead my children around a part of American they should be proud of. Instead, these monuments and museums become mere shadows of what was and what could have been. Today, there is to evident truth that all citizens are created equal. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are for those fortunate enough to be young, healthy, and God-fearing. As a nation, we must come to grips with the reality that we will not survive as a nation divided. At some point in time, we must all realize that “live and let live” means we must embrace our neighbors and offer a helping hand regardless of where they come from or where they are born. Our government must begin to set the example by cutting the budget for everyone, by living within their means (as families do across the country), and by showing compassion for those who do not enjoy a fraction of the American dream that they do. If America can spend in excess of $100 billion per year to take away lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, then perhaps they can spend at least that amount to help promote the health and welfare of America’s elderly, disabled, and low-income families. The American dream is becoming a nightmare for many.