”A Novel Political Position?”
Millions of Americans watched the Boston Marathon bombing in horror. They watched it over and over again. Millions witnessing the carnage and the bloodshed and a shocked city trying to come to grips with what had just happened. They also watched people fleeing the area where the explosion took place, men, women and children literally running for their lives. The more America watched, the more it was obvious that not everyone was running away from the blast, in fact, some people were actually running towards the victims and into the danger. Most of those running into the explosion were police officers and firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
So America noticed once again on national TV the work of emergency responders. America watched for the next week as the terrorist were tracked and hunted and brought to justice. Another love affair had begun with emergency responders because this was a national event and countless images and videos captured one heroic act after another.
I would guess very few who witnessed the actions of Boston’s first responders that day or those who cheered and applauded police in Watertown after the capture of a madman would ever question the wisdom of providing health benefits or pensions for these obvious heroes and that is a very good and reasonable position to take. Our problem, here in New Jersey and across the country, is that most of the time there is no video of the dangers we face almost daily. Very little documentation is made of the kitchen fire at 3am or the car wreck at rush hour or for that matter no thought is given to the treatment of the patient with HIV Aids or the Asian flu.
Emergency responders mostly in anonymity run into danger and take risks and place themselves in harms way. But this month, at least, news anchors and commentaries recognize first responders for the jobs we perform and they love us for it. Safety is in style again and as Governor Christie himself said this week, “we can never have enough cops”. That is, however, the same Governor who pleaded with our President to “please don’t send me any more money for public employees, they are too expensive and unmanageable and I have too many of them now”!
So how about this for a political position for any government elected official to take or for that matter any candidate for elected office to take? Imagine the far-fetched notion that firefighters and police officers and EMT’s are really good people, in fact they risk their lives. Imagine some politician making the outlandish claim that these brave men and women who get sick and hurt and sometimes even die for their community deserve to be made whole with say, maybe, health benefit?. Sounds crazy right?
Who would make such a ridiculous argument on behalf of those who come to work unconditionally and never know what emergency or danger or physically debilitating disease they may come across? Who might ever risk becoming the champion of the first responder, the domestic defender, the last line of defense and the individuals who actually come running toward disasters and criminals and fires and accidents and illnesses and extreme weather?
Who would ever stand up and say unequivocally they support safe staffing, health benefits, protection for retirees, cost of living increases for those who are ineligible for Social Security for the small percentage of those who willingly lay down their lives so that others might live?
And finally who would be so bold and brash enough to take on those who treat first responders with disrespect and with arrogance? I can tell you any one who would be so foolish as to actually care about those who take care of all the rest, say it and mean it and champion their cause would have a motivated and energized and galvanized army of supporters to help advance their agenda. And who knows maybe the general public would actually agree and understand and appreciate the courage of any politician who would stand with the people who they know stand with them whenever they or their family are in greatest need!
Just a wild, crazy and novel idea!