Political Traditions

Posted: January 17, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Discrimination, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Morality, Politics, Veterans

American politics is full of all manner of traditions. Some are innocuous enough – such as the use of political titles and so on. Then there are those which appear harmless, but in the end cost the U.S. taxpayer.

Come Tuesday of next week, President Elect Obama will be engaging in the political tradition of being sworn in as President of the United States of America.  

Admittedly, it is an important day. We are, after all, talking about the highest position in the nation: Office of the President. Therefore, it’s understandable that there will be quite a bit of pomp and circumstance attached to it. However, considering that the nation is in an economic recession – I wonder just how fiscally responsible it is for the government to spend the estimated $150 million in taxpayer dollars for the occasion?

There is another political tradition that will occur during the inauguration ceremony: the area’s homeless will be asked to be elsewhere.

A Washington Post article, Finding Havens for the Homeless, mentioned that the area’s homeless would be offered a one way bus ride to "… shelters in the city’s outer neighborhoods."

Another article, Where do the homeless go during inaugural?, on the MSNBC website says this,

"Clifton Wayne Lee, a homeless veteran, usually sleeps on a heating grate outside the Federal Trade Commission building. It would be a prime spot on Inauguration Day — just steps from the inaugural parade route.

But he’ll have to give it up. District of Columbia and federal authorities are telling homeless people that they’ll soon have to vacate the large chunk of property that will be secured before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday."

I can somewhat understand the nation’s capital wanting to reduce the number of visible homeless on that day.

First, there is the issue with security. And there are quite a number of homeless in the District.

According to the MSNBC article, it is estimated that there are over 6,000 homeless in the nation’s capital. It also mentions that on the "average day" there are quite a number of homeless encampments all along Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m willing to guess there are even some encampments right across the street from the White House.

The second issue probably has to do with what type of "message" it would send if there were a lot of homeless folks hanging about during the ceremony. It wouldn’t look good in the eyes of the estimated 2 million tourists who will be attending. And, then of course, since the event will be televised world wide, the federal government might not want the rest of the world to know that there are actually homeless people in Washington D.C.

So the solution which will be used is the "tradition" of government further displacing those American’s who are already residentially displaced.

In my opinion, the governmental practice of trying to get the homeless to go elsewhere is actually a "non-solution." It is also by far the most inhumane and immoral of political traditions.

If the nation’s capital doesn’t want there to be any visible homeless in the area, perhaps they should fund programs to help them transition back into the community – and not just cart them off to shelters in outlying neighborhoods.

It seems to me a sickening irony that there should be homeless Veterans in the nation’s capital. Even more so because President Elect Obama said in his speech in Kansas City, Missouri,

"Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America’s commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end."

I wonder if those were just words spoken to solicit votes.

Rather than spend the $150 million on Inauguration Day, it could have been used to help those homeless Veterans whose current residence are the streets of our nation’s capital.

To me, that would be a "tradition" worth embracing.

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Comments
  1. Skye says:

    I read celeb news a lot. It looks like there are quite a few singers participating in the “inaugural festivities”. I’ve been wondering how much they’re getting paid… and thinking what a waste of funds it is. The whole thing could and should be scaled way back. What kind of message does it send in these difficult economic times?

    And yes… the money should be used to house the homeless. 6,000 in our nation’s capitol? It’s a crying shame…

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