America is a wealthy, if not the wealthiest, nation when compared to every other industrialized nation on the planet, but the preponderance of wealth is held by the notorious one percent and the military industrial complex. Still, with all the wealth available the nation’s infrastructure ranks 25th in the world, tens-of-millions Americans live in extreme poverty, and only one nation on Earth has more children going to bed hungry every night of their lives than in the richest nation in the world.
It seems that a couple of times each year since Republicans destroyed the economy, another world agency condemns America for human rights violations against its own people and yet Republicans cannot or will not be bothered to reverse the trend of creating an entire nation of peasants barely surviving. Instead of being respected as one of the world’s leading humanitarian nations, the United States has become the object of pity, scorn and even ridicule among other industrialized nations for abusing its own citizens while Republicans call their handiwork exceptional and pledge to bring more shame to a once proud nation.
Since no amount of pleading from President Obama and Democrats to help Americans by addressing hunger and income inequality Republicans seem intent on increasing, a group of activists thinks they can shame Republicans into changing their evil ways. It is admirable that some private citizens have taken matters into their own hands to “shame” Republicans into action. But they are not going to do anything whatsoever to reverse the dire situation their trickle down austerity has produced and put an end to hunger in America; the groups’ efforts are futile and their mission is doomed.
One of the groups, Great Nations Eat, is a non-profit organization that started a “hard-hitting media campaign using an unusual and highly provocative ad campaign” to move Americans to force Republicans to act. Great Nations Eat and Share Our Strength hoped to “raise awareness that every day in America, one-fifth of the population has no idea where their or their family’s next meal might come from.” The founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, Billy Shore, stated the obvious: “That doesn’t happen in any other developed nation. It shouldn’t happen here.” So, since Republicans willfully refuse to do anything whatsoever to reduce hunger and poverty because they are busy increasing both, it is left to altruists to engage in a monumental exercise in futility producing documentaries about the plight of hungry Americans.
One of the filmmakers involved in making the documentary, “A Place At the Table,” Lori Silverbush, justified the groups’ efforts thus:
“In 1968, the CBS documentary ‘Hunger in America’ transformed the national conversation about hunger, and we all but eradicated it by the late 1970s. But we’ve moved backwards. Now, it is our turn. Great nations are capable of great acts. We have millions of dollars in donated media, now we need the powerful voices of Americans crying out for change.”
The documentary is made up of citizens of other, very poor countries, offering to help hungry Americans and wondering why this happens in the richest nation on Earth.
Of course America has moved backwards. It is exactly what Republicans have been screaming they and their hateful supporters want for over six years; to “take their country back.” Although they ramped up their efforts after Americans elected an African American President, their evil crusade to create a nation in poverty began when their man-turned-god and B-movie actor Ronald Reagan was president.
According to the executive producer on the film, Tom Colicchio,
“If you look at the public health issues the government has solved before like yellow fever and cholera…these are issues that we thought were just crises of the poor, issues of the inner city. As a great nation we resolved to end them, and we did.”
The silly ignorant altruist assumes that America is still a great nation, and although that might have been true 40 years ago, Republicans have worked tirelessly to erase any greatness America once had. A nation of racists, religious extremists, and warmongers is not great; just exceptionally and structurally violent toward its own citizens. In fact, this group’s belief that the only solution is shaming Republicans to reduce hunger and care for America’s starving citizens is proof that where greatness is concerned, America rivals Somalia and Yeomen.
Since the end of June of last year, Great Nations Eat created a “media blitz across virtually every type of print, broadcast and digital platform” that resulted in about one billion views over a six-month period. The groups’ effort included enlisting “campaign partners” such as the high-profile international advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and numerous film industry, creative and marketing partners. The results of their efforts have not swayed Republicans who instead made plans to eliminate what remains of America’s paltry anti-poverty programs, have kept wages low and corporate profits raging, and refused to consider making any increase in the minimum wage.
As the group notes, this gross income inequality and hunger problem could be solved easily, but Republicans have zero political will to even address the issue outside of telling Americans to work longer hours for less pay and be happy they get paid at all. The real goal of Great Nations Eat and Share Our Strength was, at the very least, to use a massive media campaign to raise awareness and send a wake-up call to the people to “humiliate and shame Republicans who have ignored the problem of hunger for too long.”
It is sad that these groups, although well-intentioned, actually believe that Republicans can be humiliated and shamed for ignoring the “problem of hunger” when the GOP is well aware that a third of the population is hungry and a quarter of the nation’s children go to bed hungry and live in dire poverty; they just do not care. More telling, actually, is that their base of support does not care even though more often than not the base is suffering from Republicans’ refusal to address hunger or poverty.
Republicans know tens-of-millions of Americans are hungry, just like they know the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission has condemned America for criminalizing homelessness, withholding food and shelter from the poor, and in many states making it a crime for private citizens to feed the homeless; a move that is wildly popular among the base. It is true that Republicans are “gutless puppets to the billionaire investor class and corporations,” but they would not be in power without ardent support from their hateful, compassionless base.
It is refreshing that private groups have spent a fair amount of money to reach a billion human beings in hopes of shaming Republicans into addressing hunger and poverty in America, but their money would be better spent providing materials for food banks and homeless shelters. Because no matter their good will and intent in trying to humiliate Republicans for deliberately creating the conditions that have sent so many Americans into poverty and hunger, all they likely did was encourage Republicans to build on their trickle down success and bring more “pity, scorn and even ridicule” on Americans who will never wise up and help themselves at the ballot box.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.