If children could vote, then I'm sure politicians in both our federal and state governments would demonstrate some actual concern for them rather than demonstrating a wanton disregard for these little citizens who are the future of America.
This profound indifference to the needs of our children is displayed starkly in how the federal and state governments are responding to the ongoing economic crisis and current obsession with reducing the federal deficit and state budget shortfalls. A scathing article titled Beyond the Geezer Wars shows how our elected representatives are doing everything they can to pander to their most reliable voting bloc, that would be our citizens over 55 years old, while leaving those who have no vote, that would be America's children, to scrounge for scraps, literally and metaphorically, where they can find them.
According to the article, "less than 10% of the federal budget is spent on programs that benefit children--in contrast to the more than 1/3 of the federal budget that goes to fund health care and income support for the elderly." Yet, children's programs assume a disproportionately large slice of the spending cuts (about 22 percent) outlined in the recently released Republican budget plan; the funding for so many programs devoted to helping children, from the child tax credit to Medicaid to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to Head Start, are being axed in the name of fiscal responsibility. And what about that 1/3 of the federal budget devoted to our graying population? Well, the "geezers" get off largely scot-free, with zero cuts to their Social Security or Medicare benefits. And I'd go off on the proposed tax cuts for the wealthy, but I don't want this post to turn into a political catfight and take the focus away from its real purpose, namely, to express my incredulity at the unjust price children are paying for their elders' fiscal negligence.
Now where's the fairness in all this? Oh, how utterly naïve of me to use the word fair when it comes to economic policy. I don't mean to devalue our senior citizens; they deserve our respect and appreciation for all they've done for our country. But what about our children, those sweet, innocent, and powerless little creatures whom we're supposed to protect and prepare for the future?
Yet, the only future that politicians seem concerned about is the next election cycle. And remember who votes and who doesn't. Can you imagine the outcry by our senior citizens if their entitlements were touched? There would be millions of grandpas and grandmas marching on Capitol Hill. And our elected representatives, Democrat and Republican alike, are far to cowardly to do what is right for all of their constituents rather than what is in their own interests.
So who suffers then? Well, the most defenseless of our citizens. Gosh, didn't someone say something about how the character of a nation is defined by how it treats its most vulnerable members? Sure doesn't say much about America, does it?
And wouldn't it be great if children could vote? In fact, these days, I would probably trust them more than our current electorate. Children smell disingenuousness (read BS) a mile away, which would preclude most politicians from getting reelected. And they also have very strong innate moral compasses, so they wouldn't allow the neediness Americans, whatever their age, to be abandoned in the name of fiscal austerity. And tax cuts for the wealthy? A nonstarter if children could vote. Imagine the political power children could wield: a Million Toddler March on Washington, used diapers put in politicians' mailboxes, water balloon attacks on Congress, and wrapping Capitol Hill in toilet paper.
If kids could vote, then you'd see some real change in our nation's priorities. All of a sudden, even our neediest children would be well fed, well cared for, and well educated. Politicians wouldn't just be reading The Pet Goat during visits to schools, but would be forced to answer the tough questions that only children can ask, for example, when will their school have its leaky roof repaired, why are their teachers being laid off, how are they going to fix our public education system, and Hannah Montana or iCarly?
I'm sorry if I'm getting a bit snarky here, but this kind of shameless neglect just lights a fire in my boxers.
What adds insult to injury is that this desertion of our children is not only callous to our children, but it's also myopic because it will likely cripple our country in the future. Poor health care, inadequate child care, and substandard early education, the three places where children are the hardest hit, will leave many in this generation of children ill-prepared to survive, much less lead America into the future. All because children can't vote.