NORMAN — Republicans chafe at the notion that they’ve declared war on women (and minorities and the working class). But what other conclusion can be drawn?
Republican-led statehouses are doing everything they can to make abortion as hard to obtain as possible. Tea-party Republicans in Congress treat illegal immigrants little better than animals. And the most reactionary Supreme Court in modern times backs the far-right agenda with its recent pro-business rulings and the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act.
The latter was an incredible betrayal of minorities. Congress just voted to renew the VRA in 2006 feeling it necessary to keep mostly southern states, with a history of voter suppression for blacks, answerable to Uncle Sam when setting up new voting laws. Chief Justice John Roberts said that times had changed since 1965 and cited a black president and the fact that minority voter registration had risen. What a sorry excuse for a justice. When Roberts was a young lawyer in the Reagan administration, he wrote memos about how to get rid of the VRA. So it’s been on his agenda for quite a while.
Times have changed? A recent study by two law professors, Christopher Elmendorf and Douglas Spencer, found that, yep, people in six southern states are more inclined to racial discrimination than elsewhere in the country. As for women, the hero du jour is Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis who talked her way through a Herculean 11-hour filibuster to thwart an abortion bill from white male Republicans who couldn’t get in a vote before the session deadline.
Gov. Rick Perry immediately called a special session of the legislature, which will surely get the job done though Davis and her growing supporters will have a lot to say. The GOP-dominated Ohio legislature recently passed an abortion bill that redefines a fetus as “developing from the moment of conception rather than when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus,” according to Mother Jones.
What happens when a woman wants a baby and carries it to birth? Enter big business. According to a New York Times article, U.S. women face the highest medical bills for pregnancy in the world. The woman profiled is paying for her baby out of pocket because her health insurance at work won’t cover maternity. What year is this again?
The Republican majority in Florida’s statehouse passed a bill that prohibits local ordinances from requiring that an employer offer sick days. Too sick to work? Go in anyway, spread your germs and help your boss get his new boat. To stay at home is to risk being fired. This law came from those fine right-wingers known as the American Legislative Exchange Council.
North Carolina’s new Republican majority (the first since Reconstruction) has been all over the suppression map: cutting unemployment benefits, setting up voter ID and passing its own draconian abortion law.
The sickening list goes on ad nauseum. Obviously Republicans have learned nothing from 2012.
So this is a golden opportunity for Democrats. In Texas, many want to see Davis challenge the clueless Perry for governor. Texas is ripe to turn blue with its growing immigrant population and women who are tired of being pawed legislatively. As Davis told her senate colleagues, “You need to get out of the vagina business unless you go to medical school.”
That the denizens of limited government can’t see the hypocrisy in their attempts to legislate the undermining of women, minorities and the working class is almost too easy to ridicule.
So Democrats, what are you waiting for? Time to put the GOP on the defensive so the American people can find out that what the right believes in can’t be defended.
Stephen Dick is an editor at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at steve.dick@herald