"What about the children?"
Politicians of both parties often stoop to using our children as props whenever they're fighting for a new law or pet government program.
They argue we need to cut the $18 trillion debt, regulate the Internet or pay teachers more "for our children."
"Think of the children" is almost always an emotional and irrational appeal made in desperation by those who don't have a reasonable or legitimate argument.
Invoking "the children" is pure BS. It's obvious political BS. But it's BS that's been used for a long time by Democrats and Republicans.
It became so common that it was satirized way back in the early 1990s in the "The Simpsons," when the character Helen Lovejoy constantly shrieked "Think of the children" during town debates over everything from lowering taxes to what to do about too many bears roaming the streets.
Despite becoming a cultural joke, using "the children" as emotional weapons in political warfare still goes on all the time.
Every other lousy politician in Washington who wants to tax, subsidize or regulate something still claims he's doing it "for the children" -- whether it's saving the planet from climate change, giving amnesty to illegal immigrants or intervening in Syria.
But when it comes to passing a piece of legislation that will actually do something to help hundreds of thousands of real children, it's another story.
As part of the latest parliamentary maneuvering and cat-fighting between Democrats and Republicans, the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 has been delayed in the Senate.
Passed by the House, and having broad bipartisan support, the act would strike an important blow in the fight against human sex trafficking.
The act would create a fund to help authorities in the USA deter and combat sex trafficking, prosecute traffickers when they are caught and provide assistance to private groups that work to rescue and restore the lives of trafficking victims - most of whom are children.
We hear little about it, but human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States and around the globe. The U.S. State Department estimates there are 27 million victims of trafficking worldwide.
Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry involving more than 125 countries. The majority of victims are women and girls who are forcibly trafficked from one place to another to do work or provide sex, usually under horribly unsafe and unhygienic conditions.
The United States is not untouched by this crime against children. Experts say 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year and about 300,000 American children, particularly children in foster care, are continually at risk of being pulled into the hell of human trafficking.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the typical sex-trafficked child in the United States is 13 or 14 years old. The average pimp makes upwards of $200,000 a year from one of his four to eight children, who are forced to have sex 20 to 48 times a day.
Private organizations like the Polaris Project and Arrow Child and Family Ministries in Texas, which I'm affiliated with, are working hard to educate the public about the horrors of sex-trafficking and rescue as many young victims as they can.
But it's a huge job and the public and private resources to do it are spread thin and hard to acquire.
With the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, Republicans and Democrats are in a great position to actually do something "for the children" instead of just talking about it.
For now the act has become another bargaining chip in Washington's never-ending private poker game.
It will pass eventually. Even Congress gets it right once in a while. But it's time for politicians to quit playing politics with the lives of our children.