Senator Bob Dole was a Republican’s Republican. During his long and distinguished career as a public servant he was the standard-bearer of what a “conservative Republican” looks like and says. He wouldn’t have gotten the 1996 Republican presidential nomination if he didn’t have good enough conservative credibility with the base. Yet, clearly the party has not only gone off the rails at the behest of the Tea Party, they have moved so far to the right fringe that Senator Dole and his old colleague Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) felt compelled to write an op-ed that ran in The Los Angeles Times on Monday simply titled, “Stop playing politics with hunger.”
The op-ed isn’t necessarily directed at Republicans or Democrats, but it’s the Republicans who have started playing with peoples’ lives the most, insisting that food stamps be cut with a Draconian blade in order to get the traditionally bi-partisan farm subsidy bill passed. The farm bill for whatever reason also carries with it the funding for food stamps and since we all know current TEApublicans get a thrill out of cutting social programs that actually help real people and not corporations, they have held food stamps hostage in an attempt to get the farm bill passed. Democrats have obviously balked.
Daschle and Dole represented polar opposites of the political spectrum while in office, but their op-ed is filled prose united in a common cause — get the farm bill passed and stop playing political games that impact “the ability of millions of Americans who still struggle in our economy to provide adequate and healthy meals for their children and families,” according to their article. As the venerable politicians continued, “There have always been disagreements between our parties over the farm bill, but for decades we have reached across the aisle to tackle the concerns on both sides.”
In an attempt to tug at the intransigent congressional members, Dole and Daschle wrote, “We are a country with ample resources, especially the plentiful supply of food produced by our farms. As Americans, we have always used this abundance to help those who are hungry, both here and abroad.” It is true; we are both the richest and most powerful nation in the world, even as we come out of our worst fiscal crisis in nearly a hundred years. Is it not disheartening that our politicians would rather play games than leverage that great power and wealth to improve the lives of those who need help the most?
The op-ed further drove this idea — that we are a nation of plenty and it’s just inane to not pass a farm bill and food stamps act — with this passage, “Americans spend a smaller percentage of our disposable income on food than people in any other country. As a nation blessed with a bounty of food, we are a nation with a duty to fight hunger.” It’s easy to see why both these men had such long and respected careers when they can see through all the rhetoric and the miasma of political theater and pen a letter essentially to Congress chastising them for damaging the country with their shenanigans.
They weren’t afraid to get tough on House Republicans, even while not mentioning them by a proper pronoun themselves. “In the modern era, funding for this vital program has been extended as part of the farm bill with relatively little partisan bickering — until now. By stripping the nutrition title from the legislation this year, the House has severed the vital tie that helps connect our food system with those who struggle with hunger in our own backyard.”
Perhaps no excerpt from the op-ed brings home their message more powerfully or directly than the opening of the piece’s final paragraph — a trot to home plate after parking one in the deepest part of the ballpark.
“If Congress lets this bill fall victim to the misguided and detrimental partisan politics we face today, the results for families and children challenged with hunger will be severe. In a country struggling to emerge from the worst economic recession since the Depression, this is no time to play politics with hunger.”