Unless you have barely existed in poverty, seen your children go without for weeks or months at a time, been hungry because you can’t afford food, faced eviction or been evicted, or had no heat, electricity or phone because of poverty, there is simply no way you can understand the constant fear, desperation and depression of the millions of Americans who deal with this reality every waking day of their lives.
No way. Period.
Sadly, these same Americans living at or well below the poverty line, are seen as nothing more than cheap pawns to be exploited by most politicians on both sides of the aisle who regularly put the needs of special interests, their political party and their reelection well before the needs of their constituents. Poor or otherwise.
For me, poverty has never been academic. As a child, I grew up in abject poverty and was often homeless. By the time I was seventeen years of age, my family had been evicted thirty-four times. Most of the homes we were thrown out of having no heat or electricity.
As I grew older, I – temporarily – morphed into a Republican because at least on paper, their messages of personal responsibility, accountability, and smaller government made the most sense to me at the time.
Based on – at the time – brutal real-world experience, I knew that government handouts were not the answer to me escaping the humanity-destroying cycle of poverty. As that child, and as I observed what poverty was doing to my family and those trapped on the same sinking ship around us, I knew that government handouts were nothing more than an addictive Band-Aid which barely allowed the poor to exist but never escape the shackles of poverty.
For me, I started shining shoes at nine years of age to try and help my family, and then took on every odd job I could find after that. By that age, I knew that – in the macro sense – no one really cared about me or my plight and that if I were going to make it out, I was going to have to do it on my own.
I realized that nothing was free in the world and that someone had to work, someone had to pay the bills, someone had to pay taxes and that someone had to be responsible.
In the years since, I have mentioned to groups and individuals – most especially those living in poverty – that it’s never easy being “the responsible one.” It’s never fun. It’s always a grind. But it’s the price to be paid if we are to survive and hopefully carve out at least a comfortable life for ourselves and our children.
Poverty is not a partisan issue and yet, both political parties, the mainstream media, academia and the entertainment community cheapen this American tragedy on a regular basis for their own selfish needs.
A recent and sad example of this was the openly President Trump-hating Washington Post speaking down to the unwashed masses from their elitist Ivory Tower to proclaim: “If You’re a Poor person in America, Trump’s Budget is not for you.”
Even while understanding that The Washington Post – along with The New York Times, NBC News, and a number of other liberal media outlets – has come completely unhinged when it comes to President Trump and has cast aside most ethics and professional and journalistic conduct to smear him at any cost, the headline and accompanying article are laughable partisan propaganda.
As a megaphone for the Democratic Party and the far-left factions allied with that Party, The Washington Post – along with virtually all liberal media outlets – failed to hold former President Obama to their same standards.
Had they done so, they could have published headline after headline for eight years on how – under President Obama’s “leadership” – poverty in America got dramatically worse. Most especially for minority America.
Or, as The Washington Post does love big-government Nanny-State entitlements, they could have run headline after headline pointing out that the public-employee pensions and health-care plans which are destroying the economies of a growing number of cities, counties, states and our nation, are robbing much needed tax-dollars for the desperately poor.
Or, The Washington Post –and every other liberal media outlet – could have run headline after headline declaring that the Democratic Party and its allies are deliberately sacrificing the well-being and very futures of millions of poor inner-city public school children so they can appease the leadership of the teachers unions.
Poverty is not partisan. It’s tragic.
Two months into his presidency, Donald Trump is talking about hard work, personal responsibility, better job training and stopping the exploitation of inner-city public school children.
Former President Obama failed the poor. Now it’s President Trump’s turn to actually try and help them.
Is that what really scares the liberals and the far-left? That President Trump might succeed where they failed?
MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir “Rolling Pennies in the Dark.” (Simon & Schuster, 2012)