November 29, 2020

The least of my brothers

Collin Reischman is a junior journalism major and opinion editor for The Journal

Exactly one year before the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla., the Republican Party held the first-ever tea party debate. The eight contestants for the worst job in the world took the stage one at a time, and the two-hour press conference began in grand fashion.
Everybody knew this debate would be different. The live audience was comprised entirely of tea party activists from different states, and even included tea party viewing parties “live by satellite,” thanks to Wolf Blitzer, the moderator.
Sure, the tea party is not a political party and they have no elected officials, but that is hardly the point. The tea party is a movement that Republicans have exploited, and now they were giving them 120 minutes to sell the American people on an Obama-less White House.
The night went as expected. Mitt Romney took shots at Rick Perry, but “Slick Rick” flexed his Texas swagger, and dodged almost every major blow with an “aw-shucks” grin. But then something happened that was unusual, even unique.
Blitzer posed a question to the ever-entertaining congressman Ron Paul of Texas. He posed a scenario of an uninsured 30-year-old man. If the man has no savings or health insurance and falls seriously ill, who should pay for his care?
Paul, a Libertarian and furious defender of individual liberty (to a fault), said that it was the “height of personal liberty” to make his choice not to purchase health insurance. When “Blitzy” followed up, things got strange.
“Who pays for his coverage? Are you saying society should let him die?” Blitzer asked, sniffing blood.
Before Paul could fire back, the audience answered for him.
“YEAH,” cried more than one member of the audience. Scattered applause began, and Paul backtracked, blabbering about local churches and communities filling the public-sector sized void he plans to leave in our lives.
And again, the ugly reality of the tea party rears its head, and they didn’t even need a snappy cardboard sign. True-blue Libertarians like Paul, and crazy people like members of the tea party, argue that society has no obligation to care for people lacking “personal responsibility.”
In fact, this is a dog-eat-dog world, and people that can’t care for themselves don’t deserve our attention, if the current field of GOP candidates is to be believed.
You know, for a party that regularly takes potshots at evolution, the Republicans seem fixated on the idea of natural selection. Those who “have” must have worked hard, and those that “have not” are just lazy, stupid or unworthy of success.
What happened to the social contract? And where is all the compassion, forgiveness and love Christians seem so fond of praying about? The GOP claims to be the party of morality, decency and family values. But it is neither moral nor decent to let your neighbor suffer and die because your house is warm and your fridge is full.
If we begin down a road of self-interested insulation, we will not make it. If we begin down a road of callous abandon to the needs of others, we doom our very souls.
The party of Christian values ought to remember Christ, when he said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
History won’t judge our character on the size of our guns or the might of our money. History always judges the ruling power by how they treated the least of their citizens. History will remember how we treated the least of our brothers.
Sometimes we are 50 separate states filled with passionate individuals, and sometimes we are one nation with one goal. I know this because Florida didn’t win WWII. Maine didn’t abolish slavery and California didn’t land on the moon.
And yet, Republicans seem only interested in national unity when it’s used as the tip of the sword of war. Of course, it is patriotic to ban together under the flag, as long as there are no homeless people near the flag. We do have standards, don’t we?

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