Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Cheap Political Theater
by Pa Rock
The loony fringe of the Republican Party has been waging such a dirty and mean-spirited war against women, children, workers, minorities, and the poor for so long and with so much fury that they have begun to look foolish to almost every segment of American society – as well as to a good portion of their own national party. These zealots have pulled their presidential front runner, Mitt Romney, so far to the right that when the general election rolls around, he will be hard pressed to extricate himself from some of the extreme positions that he has had to take in order to secure the nomination. In fact, Romney’s nomination will be a textbook Pyrrhic victory.
But that’s fine. 2012 will be a learning experience and the two-party system will undoubtedly survive.
According to a couple of recent press reports, Democrats are beginning to learn from some of these Republican excesses. While Democrats have been more comfortable debating political issues with facts and logic, the GOP learned a long time ago that shameless theatrics will capture voters’ imaginations much quicker and more effectively than any boring old speech or pie chart.
Case in Point: Republicans would have us believe that anyone who requires government assistance in order to survive is lazy and just wants to live high-on-the-hog at the taxpayer’s expense. They want us to know that these aren’t good people, and to make sure that we see the welfare or unemployment recipients as borderline criminals, many Republican-controlled state legislatures have begun to impose requirements for anyone seeking public assistance to take a urinalysis to screen for drugs. (That applies only to individual welfare, and not to corporate welfare which Republicans enthusiastically support as being good for America – even when many of those same corporations move their jobs and their profits overseas.)
And did I mention that these drug screenings are paid for by the welfare applicants? One more needless expense, one more unnecessary hassle, one more indignity to be suffered by those with no means to fight back.
Fortunately for those welfare applicants and for society in general, a few brave Democratic state legislators have decided to use a little theater of their own to highlight the foolishness coming from their Republican colleagues. The rogue politicians are saying if the poor need to take a drug test in order to receive their government checks, then elected officials should be required to do the same thing before receiving theirs. Not surprisingly, the Republican politicians are less than enthusiastic about peeing in a cup themselves.
Second Case in Point: One of the myriad of ways that state politicians have come up with to interfere with a woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion is to heap unnecessary and often expensive requirements on the woman before she can access the medical procedure. The Republican controlled state legislature of Virginia recently decided that any woman who wanted an abortion must first undergo a highly manipulative and medically unnecessary ultrasound prior to the procedure.
But Virginia State Senator Janet Howell threw an amendment onto the ultrasound bill that would have required all males to have a rectal exam and cardiac fitness test before they could be prescribed any medications for erectile dysfunction.
Want that Viagra, buddy? Bend over and spread ‘em!
Senator Howell’s amendment failed on a close vote of 21-19 with six of the senate’s seven female members voting in favor! What’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander - just not in Virginia!
It ain’t Lincoln-Douglas, but it ain’t bad. Cheap theater begetting cheap theater. Maybe someday we will find our way back to the high road – but it’s going to take a bi-partisan effort and a strong national will to get there. And right now one political party in particular seems to lack the judgement and integrity to move us in that direction.