The collapse of the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obama care has led to speculation in many quarters that as a last resort Congress might give bipartisanship another try. Many consider that wishful thinking if not hopelessly naive. But Share Our Strength’s experience with it’s No Kid Hungry campaign suggests that there are times when such bipartisanship can not only work but produce concrete results that measurably improve lives.
Granted that feeding hungry kids is more popular and less complicated than tackling health care. But it’s still dependent on legislation, government funding, and the commitment of state and local officials to executive efficiently and effectively. For the past 10 years we have won the support of Democrats and Republicans alike making arguments that have bipartisan appeal:
- That childhood hunger is a solvable problem
- That children are the most vulnerable and least responsible for the situation they are in
- That the return on investing in children pays dividends and saves taxpayers money in the long run.
Most important of all, we have resisted the temptation to attack those with whom we disagree. And the battles we’ve fought have been for the purpose of feeding kids, not for the purpose of strengthening our own political prospects.
As I said, that can sound naïve in today’s political culture. But the results speak for themselves: 3 million kids added to the school breakfast program, a majority of eligible kids participating in school meals rather than a minority, and childhood hunger at its lowest level in more than a decade.
It’s a sad commentary that in the health care debate, bipartisanship is considered only as a last resort. But at this point there is no other option. And as we’ve seen in the effort to achieve No Kid Hungry, that can a be a good thing.