Folks from the Republican Party are always going on about how much they care about our children and want to protect them from harm. That’s why we need to have transgender bathroom laws, they claim, to keep these weirdos out of our public restrooms. Though GOP-affiliated deviants who just happen to have a “wide stance” get a free pass, of course. The Republican Party cares about children so much, they even do their dangdest to protect the ones that haven’t been born yet.
While we greatly appreciate the efforts of these “compassionate conservatives,” we also have 11 more issues we’d like for them to address to ensure the safety and well-being of our kids. We’re surprised the GOP hasn’t already thought of them.
11 issues the Republican Party should address if they really want to protect our children.
1. Hunger: The Republican Party keeps slashing funds for food stamps (also known as SNAP) even though this hurts the old and the young alike. The US Census Bureau reports 16 million children — one in five! — live in households that receive food stamps. As for that tired old argument about “personal responsibility,” nearly 90 percent of SNAP households have at least one person who is too young, old or disabled to work. Among families with children, over 60 percent of those on SNAP have at least one adult in the household who is working. Alas, many jobs do not pay enough for families to feed their children without a boost from food stamps.
2. Poverty: The Republican Party also needs to join non-neoliberal Democrats in protecting children from the devastating effects of poverty. Yet a report from UNICEF reveals the sorry fact that the US ranks number four among developed nations for child poverty. The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that food insecurity, lack of proper housing, lack of health care, exposure to lead and other contaminants, and the chronic stress that goes along with these things have long-term adverse effects on these kids’ development, schooling, and future ability to function as happy, healthy and productive adults.
3. Poison in our water supply: Whether it’s lead leaching from old pipes into our drinking water — as is happening in crumbling former industrial centers like Flint — or billions of gallons of fracking fluids getting dumped into California’s aquifers, decades of budget cuts, neglect, and deregulation are a threat to the health and safety of our children. If the Republican Party really cares about them, they’ll increase spending to repair our nation’s infrastructure and enforce our environmental laws.
4. Guns: Public Health Watch reports 3,000 children under the age of 18 die from gun violence every year, and 20 children wind up in the hospital from gun-related injuries each day. Yet two million children under the age of 14 live in homes with firearms that are loaded and unlocked. Yet members of the Republican Party refuse to even consider commonsense gun safety laws that would protect our children from injury and death.
5. Illness: Once we’ve made sure our nation’s kids have safe drinking water, stable housing, enough food to eat, and safety locks for their family members’ guns, we’ll also want to keep them healthy, right? To protect our children from illness and chronic health conditions, we need to make sure they have access to healthcare for their checkups, wellness visits, and vaccines, right? But wait … Many kids live in states run by the Republican Party, whose governors refused to expand Medicaid. It’s a good thing that the Democrats snuck in an ACA provision that helps get more kids covered. #ThanksObama.
6. Child abuse: While child abuse occurs among all religions and political parties, authoritarian parenting and extreme discipline methods are common among the right-wing evangelical Christians who make up a large part of the Republican Party’s base. In the book “Breaking Their Will” author Janet Heimlich describes the “Bible-based” child-rearing practices and family structures that lead to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. And, thanks to the Republican Party’s fondness for diverting public school funds to homeschooling parents and religious charter schools, these children cannot get any help because they often have little or no contact with the outside world.
7. Global warming: Thanks to the Republican Party’s fierce denial of human-caused climate change, our nation is way behind in making efforts to address this looming disaster. We’re not only selling out our children’s future so we can keep burning fossil fuels, we’re also endangering our entire planet. No wonder a group of child and youth activists is suing the US government for failing to protect our natural resources as required by the US Constitution. So far the courts in Washington and Oregon have handed these kids two major victories in allowing their lawsuit to proceed.
8. Deportation: Since the Republican Party claims to care about family values, you’d think they’d want to keep families together and children with their parents, right? Alas, this isn’t the case for children who were born in the US but whose parents are undocumented workers, or for children who grew up here from a young age but who don’t have their paperwork. Alas, Donald Trump and his fellow right-wingers don’t seem inclined to help these children or their families.
9. Zika and other infectious diseases: In February, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fight Zika abroad and prepare for it here at home. On May 18, the GOP-led House grudgingly passed a measly $622 million bill. The Republican Party claims to care about fetuses, yet they’re not willing to protect the unborn from the “ziki fly” despite its risks to pregnant women and the children they carry.
10. Bullies: Back to the Republican Party’s noxious transgender bathroom laws. We fear they’ve made a terrible mistake. As it turns out, transgender people are far more likely to be victims than they are to molest people. By making someone who looks like a girl or a woman use a men’s bathroom because they were born with male genitalia, these laws will make them even more at risk of bullying. In fact, we would love it if the GOP would protect our children by banning all forms of bullying in schools and other public spaces. Imagine how much safer our children would be if their schools made it harder for them to get bullied for things like gender non-conformity, choosing not to pray in school, or just being a nerd?
11. Racism: Since the majority of babies born in the US are now non-white, it would also be great if the Republican party would enact some laws that would protect these children from the toxic effects of systemic racism. Alas, it’s too late for the many generations of children in the US who’ve been subjected to racism since the founding of our nation, but the sooner we change, the better.
Featured photo: Public domain Pixabay.