Republicans are resorting to their age-old tactic of manufactured moral outrage to distract from the fact that they have no economic agenda other than to enrich the already wealthy.
It couldn’t have been clearer than in the GOP response to President Biden’s State of the Union address. While the president at least paid some lip service to policies meant to help working people, Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered a bigoted invective against LGBTQ people, teachers, and more in her response.
It would be laughable if their culture wars didn’t have a deadly impact on people’s lives.
As if overturning Roe v. Wade weren’t enough, 20 GOP state attorneys general are now targeting pharmacy chains for fulfilling mail orders of the abortion drug mifepristone. The pill is now used in more than half of all abortions nationwide, likely in response to the rapidly disappearing access to surgical abortions.
Although Republicans claim they’re working in the interests of women’s health, these pills are safer than penicillin or Viagra — and going through pregnancy and childbirth is far more dangerous to women’s health than abortion. No wonder both infant and maternal mortality are higher in states with harsh anti-abortion laws.
The GOP’s war on transgender people has also gained steam. They are battling the right of transgender people to transition via surgeries, hormone supplements, or other medical treatments recommended by doctors. It’s a shocking attack on people’s right to be who they want and need to be — one that targets young people in particular.
GOP lawmakers in Texas have introduced 35 anti-LGBTQ bills, three of which would classify this medical care as child abuse. The Trevor Project has found that “86 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health.” This cruel debate has further encouraged bullying — and the risk of suicide.
Their third major battlefront is the classroom.
Claiming they are fighting a college-level academic approach to history called critical race theory, GOP leaders such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are busy banning books and classes at all levels of education. DeSantis’s latest assault is a ban on a new AP-level high school African American studies course that the College Board spent years devising and was set to pilot in 60 schools across the country.
Around the same time, Republicans took aim at Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), unceremoniously stripping her of membership in the House Foreign Affairs Committee over false charges of anti-semitism — even as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), whose antisemitism is well documented, are now poised to regain their committee seats.
In a speech on the House floor, Omar rightly pointed out that the Republican attack was about “who gets to be an American.” She called out the GOP for its earlier culture war aimed at the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, and for spreading rumors that he was a secret Muslim and not a natural born U.S. citizen.
The message that emerges from the conservative party is that if you’re not a straight white man or in service of their supremacy, you’d better fall in line — or face prohibition and the threats of violence.
All the while, congressional Republicans are hoping to cut support to American families by taking the economy hostage.
According to the Washington Post, “the party has focused its attention on slimming down federal health care, education, science and labor programs, perhaps by billions of dollars.” And some have pitched deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
These extremists are aggressively attacking marginalized people and hoping voters let them off the hook for their regressive economic policies. In truth, both are deadly.
Sonali Kolhatkar is the host of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. This commentary was produced by the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and adapted for syndication by OtherWords.org.