Dear Senator McConnell: Sink the Hunley and Take Care of the Poor

Dear Senator McConnell:

Like you, I was distressed to learn of the financial deficit at the Department of Health and Human Services. And like you, I believe that it’s vital for State government to act in a responsible and transparent way with public funding.

But, after reading your letter to HHS Director Emma Forkner, I believe that you are not offering any solutions to the grim fact that more than 650,000 of South Carolina’s residents are too poor to afford the health care that you and the General Assembly have so generously provided for yourselves. Of course, that shouldn’t surprise me: you and the majority of our elected representatives have repeatedly demonstrated that you have no concern for anyone but those who can afford to support your political career and your pet projects.

Take for instance, your quest for funding for one of your favorite projects: restoring the Confederate submarine, the Hunley. On the same day you wrote your smackdown of Emma Forkner, I received a letter from you asking me to give $3000 to sponsor the Friends of the Hunley’s Annual Oyster Roast.

Now I love history, and want the full American story told, including the disastrous rebellion against the United States of America that the Hunley so poignantly recalls. So don’t think that I’m anti-history. But in a time of crisis in state government, it is irresponsible for you to appropriate another single state dollar to this multi-million dollar boondoggle. Further, it’s irresponsible for you to ask me or anyone else to make a charitable gift to such a project, while you and other state failed leaders play a fiddle tune to the burning of our social safety net. It’s not just irresponsible, it’s a a sign of your secular humanist, Social-Darwinist worldview. 

You see, I come from the Judeo-Christian tradition, with which you may not be familiar. For Jews and Christians, it is a sacred duty to care for the poor and to act as defender of those who have no one else to defend them. Some of the holy texts that form our worldview are these:

Deut. 26:5-9. The Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to… this land flowing with milk and honey. 

Luke 4:16-21. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read… “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD… Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Ps. 140:12. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.

Is. 25:4. For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress.

Ps. 10:14. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan…O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.

Is 41:17. The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.

Luke 6:20-21. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

James 2:5. Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

The real solution to our state funding crisis is not in a hypocritical call to “stand up for the Constitution,” but in working together to do what is necessary to care for the poor, break the cycle of poverty and create an equal opportunity for everyone. The Constitution, after all, says that the purpose of government is to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” You have failed to honor those purposes. Your glorification of the Confederate rebellion against the Union shows that you mock the provision of the common defense, to say nothing of establishing justice, promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty.

 You were elected to solve problems, not ignore them. If you can’t do that, then quit taking our tax dollars and go do something else with your life. If you were chosen to run a private sector corporation and had wrecked it so thoroughly, I doubt that many Boards of Directors would retain you.

Meantime, sink the Hunley, Senator. We’ve got poor people who need our help.

Senator McConnell’s letter to HHS Director Emma Forkner is found here.

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