It has become painfully obvious that the presidential campaign season is in full effect now because the GOP has dusted off their precious anti-choice agenda to charge up their base. It’s an issue that GOP likes to pretend they care about every 4 or 8 years, with intermittent attacks on Planned Parenthood in between, but when they’re in an actual position to work toward the overturn of Roe v Wade, like they were when they had control of all three branches of the federal government from 2000 to 2006, they do nothing but perpetuate their mouth breathing rhetoric. This is in large part why I went from voting for Pat Buchanon in 2000 (there were no hanging chads in Indiana, so it was a purposeful act) to voting for Barak Obama in 2008 (with a stopover in Bushland after the swift boat sank); the single issue that drives most reasonable voters to lunatic fringe.
For example, I host a monthly event in town called Drinking Liberally. The purpose of the event, sponsored by the Bartholomew County Democratic Party, is to facilitate social interaction among those who do not identify as Republican or Conservative in our community, or as I like to put it, for “those who lean to the left.” At last July’s event I sat down with two of my long time friends, both self-admitted registered Republicans, and we discussed politics. For a little background, both of these gentlemen, brothers, came to know me when I was a regular, active member of a local evangelical, dispensationalist bible church. That church has split in two and no longer exists. But of what remains , these brothers could be said to belong to the more conservative wing of the ideology. That is what made our conversation that much more amusing. You see, one is a teacher and the other is a factory worker, so when it came to issues of public education, labor unions, and wealth inequality, we were in complete agreement.
Let me clarify.
I believe that public education should be entirely funded by the public. There should be no book rental fees, no transportation fees, no after school program fees, extra curricular fees, none of that. The money provided by the public needs to stop being wasted on bloated administrative salaries and offices and sent directly to the schools to enrich the teachers and their classrooms. Not one public cent should be used on private school vouchers to transfer students in suburban districts, students who have never stepped foot in a public school, to private parochial schools. These private schools are not held to the same accountable standards as our public schools and do not receive the same amount of public oversight and therefore should not receive any of our tax dollars. On that, we agreed.
I believe that labor unions are a vital necessary foundation of democracy in our nation. They are the only means by which labor has any negotiating power with management/business in both the public and private sector. A contract, according to introductory business law, must be negotiated in good faith from a stance of equality. A contract can be considered null and void if one party forces the other to concede to every demand. Management and business control the capital, the money, and that is often the only thing we think about when it comes to contract negotiations: wages. Of course, we also consider benefits like healthcare (which, by the way, my friends and I mostly agree on the need to expand Medicare into a single-payer universal healthcare program) and 401k’s, but we forget about mandatory paid vacations, mandatory paid family time, or the fact that the 40 hour work week, overtime, and child labor laws are all apart of contract negotiations. Columbus, IN. is a rather affluent town and it is that way because of the Diesel Workers Union at Cummins and their members who were willing to go on strike when it was necessary. If teachers want to regain control of their classrooms and regain the respect they’ve earned then they need to consider their history as a labor union. On that, we agreed as well.
I believe that anyone who works full time should not require government assistance for anything. We’re all responsible for how we budget our resources, but expecting anyone to work 60-80 hours at 2 to 3 minimum wage jobs in order to support themselves – let alone a spouse, a child, a parent, or all of the above – is ludicrous. I do not advocate a nanny state, nor do I want anyone to taken care of for life without working; we have enough trust fund babies. What we need is a living wage. In Bartholomew County a single adult would need to make at least $10.72 an hour to survive without any assistance and $16 an hour in order to support a child. The current minimum wage is not going to cut it. And on that, we agreed.
But no one on the GOP ticket, in any race – local or national – is campaigning on these issues. In fact, when talk turned to Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, we found another thing we agreed on: “He’d be good.” Why then do these friends of mine, and many other self-professed, registered Republicans continue to vote against their own interest? Why do they believe that Republicans have the moral high ground on the issue of abortion, the one thing they all turn to when it comes to voting for the GOP, when it’s obvious that these so-called fellow conservatives have no interest in providing any sort of support or care for the unborn child once it is born?
Because my fellow Democrats have conceded the debate. Even Democratic Socialist, like myself, have a hard time justifying the termination of a pregnancy in the face of morality. I am a newborn father and I would sooner commit suicide than allow, let alone decide, for any harm to come to my wife or children. But the simple fact is that legalized abortion saves lives. Let me repeat that: LEGALIZE ABORTION SAVES LIVES. There are two lives who face mortal danger during pregnancy: the mother and the child. Before abortion was decriminalized women who had already been ostracized by their family and their community for their pre-marriage pregnancies were forced to seek somewhat medically trained individuals willing to perform hotel room, back alley procedures in order to terminate the pregnancy. Whether it was an actual child, based on whatever side of the debate we fall on as to when life begins, or not, the woman’s life was in the hands of a stranger who she had no way of knowing whether or not he was the professional he claimed to be. However, once abortion become legal in all 50 states the lives of those women were saved. They could have safe, legal, and accountable procedures. Half of the problem was solved.
But in order to tackle the second half of the problem, and save the lives of unborn children, my friends and their fellow single issues voters, need to give up on the idea that criminalizing abortion will do anything other than bring back the unnecessary deaths of women. Once they focus on REDUCING the amount of abortions performed by doing everything possible to make abortion the least viable, practical, or sensical solution, then we can reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that we’re now able to track. But every time they vote for an elected official who promises to cut SNAP, defund Planned Parenthood (who actually does do more for healthcare than the extremists are willing to admit), depress wages, cut funding for public schools and healthcare, they are insuring an increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
I think my friends are waking up to the fact that federal elections are all about party rhetoric. They’re intrigued by a candidate like Bernie Sanders because they hear what he’s saying, see what he’s done, and know that it’s not “same shit different day” type of politics. As a result, that starts to trickle down (unlike Reagonomics) to the state, county, and city level. They realize that ideologues spouting the same tired national party rhetoric have no real interest in representing them; they just need their vote. And once they fully realize that one trick pony – abortion – is just a dead horse, they’ll stop watching the GOP beat it and start looking for viable, practical, and sensical solutions to address the problems they face every day.
NOTE: NO LINKS OR IMAGES THIS TIME AROUND BECAUSE I WANT MY WORDS TO SINK IN. THANK YOU AND PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING.