This week's popular diversions--an airline crash, a murder trial--led me (and I suppose a multitude of others) to pass over the latest outrage committed by House Republicans, until I read the lead editorial and the Gail Collins op-ed piece in today's New York Times. They went through the annual ritual of passing the farm bill--the one that hands out $195.6 billion to Big Agriculture--but not before stripping it completely of its much needed companion piece, the food stamps program--the one that helps keep the wolf from the door of 47 million Americans.
Will they stop at nothing? Have they no shame, these people who have the gall to hide beneath the mantle of conservatism? It would be only slightly less outrageous if they applied their supposed budget-cutting zeal with equal ferocity to rich and poor alike. They don't. There are countless examples of their zealotry yielding in the face of wealth and power. To steal from the poor in order to hand out generously to the rich is to reverse the Christian principles to which they purportedly adhere.
Will their mean-spiritedness and hypocrisy be properly rewarded at the next election by their ouster? Some hope! Congressional districts have now been gerrymandered to give virtual assurance to their re-election. It will likely take more years of their oppression before we all come back to our collective senses. For the moment, we seem bent on following the historical path of all great powers, into decline and eventual irrelevance. A friend wrote yesterday from Europe, noting that the days are gone when one could travel as an American with a sense of pride in our generosity of spirit and our democratic ways. Now the world looks at us askance, and wonders how the American dream became the nightmare that it is for the increasing numbers of the unemployed and the poverty-stricken.
What happened, we may all wonder, to the Big Heart upon which we once used to pride ourselves? It seems to have stopped pumping the lifeblood that once flowed through our arteries, creating our vitality and strength. It is becoming a mean and shriveled thing, and heading rapidly toward inertia.