Gun violence involving the slaughter of children in broad daylight has occurred once again. Nikolas Cruz, a white male with a history of troubling behavior, woke up Wednesday February 14th, 2018 with the intent of killing fellow human beings. Cruz calmly went back to the school that expelled him, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 people with a AR – 15, a gun that exists only to do ungodly damage to the human body.
As the families and community of Parkland, Florida continue to deal with the trauma and tragedy of this horrific act of violence long after the cameras and news agencies are gone, they will find themselves part of a larger American narrative that involves the Republican Party - a political organization that does not value children. The Republican Party is aware that this is the 18th school related shooting this year, and it’s only February. But the blood-stained carpets, classrooms and streets only serve as a reminder of their own cowardice. If the Republican Party valued children, they would take their majorities in the House and Senate and strengthen gun laws. But they haven’t done anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s white children from affluent areas or poor black children in a major city dying from gun violence. They don’t care. From their perspective, children can’t do anything for them. They don’t vote, can’t establish children PAC’s, or donate their piggy bank savings to their campaigns.
We’ve seen other ways the Republican Party does not value children, as well. For months, Republicans left children and their families in limbo when it came to re-authorizing health insurance through the CHIP program for low income American citizens. The Republican apparatus was aware children in Flint, Michigan were drinking contaminated water for years and did nothing about it. They knew high toxicity of lead in drinking water causes brain damage and long-term health problems, but it didn’t matter because they saw no human value in those poor young people.
The National Center for Children in Poverty estimates 21% of all children in the United States live in families with income below the Federal poverty threshold. The Republican Party policy initiatives only serve to worsen the conditions of these children. Republicans have attempted to cut free lunch programs across the country. Republican President Donald Trump, in his budget, has proposed heartless cuts to early childhood education programs such as Head Start. Trump wants to drastically cut American anti-hunger programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which would impact tens of millions of children. Not to mention the services lost for children because of Medicaid cuts.
The Republican Party has made no serious effort to address the exorbitant amount of childcare costs that burdens families across the country. There’s been Republican resistance in supporting paid family leave for families blessed with the gift of a newborn baby to care for, knowing the first year of parenting is the most important.
If there is anything America should know by now, it’s that the Republican Party does not value the lives of children, dead or alive. From Columbine, to Sandy Hook, to Parkland, Republicans show what they value - the blood money from pro death organizations such as the National Rifle Association. Even as they send "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of their gun policies, Republicans continue to be unmoved by the daily struggles millions of children experience across the country, from poverty to lack of education and actively work to make their lives worse.
This is who they are. They will not change. Republican disinvestment in children is a function of their lack of conscience, empathy and compassion. The change rests on us.
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