The millions of victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are lucky Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio and tea party-Republicans don't represent them; if they did, they wouldn't be sending help to the victims anytime soon.
Instead, they'd be playing politics — dithering, posturing, and holding aid hostage until they got cuts in some program that helps poor kids or ailing seniors.
Impossible as it may be for civilized people with a moral compass to imagine, the sight of dazed, destitute, injured, dying and helpless people, through no fault of their own, doesn't seem to affect people of a certain disposition (aka tea party Republicans); their empathetic screws are loose, if they ever even had them.
Shedding crocodile tears, Rubio said he "watched with great sadness as Hurricane Sandy hit various eastern seaboard states and destroyed towns, property and lives." He "offered . . . prayers that the people impacted by Sandy would find strength in God's love and the company of their loved ones in its aftermath."
So much hot air. They'd better merit divine intervention, because Rubio lifted a finger, but it wasn't to help them. He claims he's opposed to holding natural disaster relief hostage to cuts in social programs. In his first chance to help, he voted against "the Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill . . . [because it went] beyond emergency relief to impacted victims and communities" and was full of "pork" (aka it had pork he didn't approve of.) Who's he trying to fool? Every bill is pork-laden or it never becomes law.
"We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans," he was quoted as saying. It took Congress three months to approve a $50.7-billion aid package. But, even then, in his second chance to show a smidgen of human decency, Rubio voted against it — along with 35 other tea party Republicans in the Senate and 179 House members. A year after Sandy struck, many victims are still destitute, their homes still not rebuilt, their lives shattered.
As we breathe a sign of relief after another placid hurricane season, I have two nightmares. First, South Florida suffers unthinkable devastation from a storm like Sandy. Just imagine the unimaginable — or better yet, the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan: rich and poor equally affected: hovels and mansions leveled; dazed people aimlessly roaming what used to be identifiable streets; buildings spread like Pick-Up sticks; the injured overwhelming the few medical facilities that survived; corpses rotting in debris; people without food and water; outbreaks of disease; children crying over dead parents; parents in shock at the deaths of their children.
Don't be stupid and think it can't happen here. Sandy was hundreds of miles off the coast of Florida and it caused flooding and permanent damage to our beach road. The Red Cross provided sandwiches, snacks and water to residents stranded in 60 homes in Fort Lauderdale — and we suffered relatively nothing. A major storm could flatten us.
And second, I'm afraid that we'd be treated no better than the victims of Sandy, by tea party/GOP members of Congress, who'd block aid from getting to us — and by insurance companies replacing Citizens who sold us policies that don't really cover us.
Where will Marco Rubio be when Floridians need him? If there's any pork in a Florida relief bill, will he refuse to vote for it and remain, as usual, slavishly loyal to his tea party masters? Or will he hold his nose and abandon his "principles" in the interest of suffering Floridians? Or will he do none-of-the-above and "watch with great sadness," "offer prayers" and hope we find "strength in God's love"?
We have reached a moral low-point in America, when everything that has been our collective strength slowly but surely has been eroded. Government, which has historically been the protector of all people, has been vilified as our common enemy. No one knows for sure what's left that we can rely upon or how much of our social and emergency infrastructure has been compromised or dismantled.
Perhaps Rubio has the answers. If not, maybe he'll shed some of his hallmark crocodile tears.
Contact Stephen L. Goldstein on Twitter @drslgoldstein or by email at email@example.com.