Roadkill on the Highway
As a member of the public website Change.org, two of my priority causes are animals and poverty in America. The following is a Change letter written to Republican John Boehner by Diane Nilan about the poor of America “who have become roadkill on a highway to political supremacy.”
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“Dear Future Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner;
Despite pundit lingo, this election was not about a “party” nor a political “game” that “scored” big for the Elephant. Nope. Among other things, it’s one stop on our national journey on which millions of fragile, feeble, financially-vulnerable families, teens and single adults hang on for dear life. My plea to you: don’t let them become roadkill on your highway to political supremacy.
As you prepare to share driving duties with your arch-enemy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, pay attention to landmarks. See those ramshackle boarded-up buildings all across your home state of Ohio and the rest of the country, the shuttered downtowns and abandoned houses? They represent lost dreams. See those folks standing in line at local food pantries that struggle with depleted inventories and soaring requests? Or those ubiquitous tent cities in towns of every ilk? People are “mean-mad,” as Eleanor Roosevelt uttered back in the Great Depression. Your time behind the wheel will be judged by the route you choose to take.
With a good friend who is a compassionate Republican Congresswoman, Judy Biggert of Illinois, I know that humane legislation can evolve from both parties. The route to truly good government is paved with bedrock that, among other things, ensures safe affordable housing, adequate nutritious food, accessible health services, quality public education and affordable child care — the heretofore underfunded essentials of true national vitality, indicating our out-of-order moral imperative compass.
The ignored ranks of millions sidelined by abject poverty grow with those brutally bumped from a deceptively secure middle class lifestyle, from homeowner to homeless. Joining the poverty-roadside hitchhikers are the formerly employed, especially the 99ers, swept from income-earning to unemployment check to totally forgotten. Lame, infirm victims of health care negligence find themselves in gutters. Brown-skinned brothers and sisters hide out in fields by roadsides, fearing intolerant xenophobic drivers. Ex-felons search back alleys for ways around the detours dictated by their actions and their now-rusted status.
Take a look at the beaters you pass along our nation’s highways — a 21st century “Grapes of Wrath” migration plays out, with families uprooted, some ashamed as they return to parents’ homes, others chasing the promise of jobs and housing in a distant city, broken people fleeing shattered lives and relentless bill collectors ….
In the name of the take-no-prisoners, astonishingly expensive ($3.9 billion) political “game,” I suspect strategies are being shaped not to pave over differences, but to bulldoze our president and anyone with a D after their name. That may be a route to political success, but at what cost?
Lest we forget, our journey’s destination, life — the precious gift, holy, sacred, no matter your religious belief — becomes increasingly difficult to nurture as income gaps grow and power bases assume battle positions for the already-started 2012 campaign. That’s far from a pulpit theory. It’s a predictor of speed bumps with power to derail the most determined driver, causing a wreck of epic proportions.
I fear little attention will be paid to tragic road signs of the non-elites like the distraught woman in Queens who recently threw a two-year-old off a seventh-floor balcony. Or Melissa and her kids, stuck in a motel with no light at the end of the tunnel. Or Tina, whose temporary housing subsidy nears the end of the ride, heading to life on the street for her soon-to-be-born baby and her little sons. Or millions of other lost souls like them.
Because of your new role as national chauffeur, Rep. Boehner, I’m extending my invitation to you. Watch my new documentary, on the edge, which will clear up much confusion about what’s happening on the streets of our nation.
Seems to me it’s time for a backroads drive. Let me show you and Harry Reid the battered countryside I’ve been staring at for the last five years on my nomadic poverty chronicling experience. It’s far from a game. It’s carnage, with the poor ending up as roadkill on the political highway to nowhere.”
Photo credit: Diane Nilan