Kanye West has said a lot of stupid stuff during his time in the spotlight, but the reason his “Bush doesn’t care about black people” remark resonated so powerfully was because a lot of people shared his frustration over Hurricane Katrina victims being neglected by the administration.
We’ve watched an obstructionist Congress gridlock every political issue into partisan nonsense for the last few years, and accomplish very little in the process. This snail pace politics was most heavily felt when Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey last October.
To this day, Republicans are still holding the relief funds hostage as part of their grander budgetary debate, and victims who lost their entire lives are spending the next few hours preparing for another bout of merciless weather.
Natural disasters are unique in the political sphere, in that they are one of the few issues that genuinely cross party lines — or at least they should. Whether it’s wildfires in California, tornadoes in Kansas, hurricanes on the East Coast or crop-killing droughts, the mass displacement and damage done by these acts of God should always be an opportunity for us to display our unity and fortitude as a nation.
Politicians enjoy discussing the role of government — whether it is best to protect American interests by inflating our military might, or support citizens with education and social welfare. But I can’t think of a better example of why society agrees to pay into a taxable support system, then the oversight and aid needed to save us when the worst truly happens.
The Republican stance of believing states and charities will take care of the problem has long been proven ineffective. Red Cross has as big a reputation for bureaucracy and minimalist relief as the governments they claim to circumvent. Massive federal funds for construction, supplies, food, shelter, medicine and workers are essential in stemming the initial and continual damages suffered during a disaster.
As we face the incoming of what is being called a historic storm, I can’t help but wonder if politicians will take the opportunity to prove their worth and role … or if they’ll see it as another chance to point the finger at their "incompetent" opponents across the aisle. For all the talk of what factors strengthen our democracy and economy, none is more important than the safety of our citizenry.
I was in New York for Sandy, when half the island lost power and was in complete blackout. I remember seeing people drenched in flooding waters, running to the NYU hospital to help carry generator fuel up stairs or help the national guard carry injured patients out to evacuating vehicles. We came together, and demonstrated the values our politicians claim to uphold. Those victims in Long Island and New Jersey who’ve had to wait several months, watching congress debate the merits of their relief — which is only now being released in installments — should have our sympathy and outrage.
How callously can the Republicans stick to a doctrine that federal funding for relief should be offset by spending cuts first? How impotent can the Democrats be not to realize this is among the few issues that they should be brutally foaming at the mouth to defend?
The infrastructure and safety of Americans is the paramount foundation on which we build all other ideals. There’s no lobbying group to push this agenda, and the government can’t necessarily win votes by heavily investing recovering people’s lives. It’s just the right thing to do.