Every potential flash of life is so precious that you’ll use the state’s police power to force women to give birth. Given this passionate interest in life, you obviously support universal health insurance, gun control, mandatory vaccinations and other basic interventions that protect the sanctity of life. You oppose the death penalty. Use of unnecessary force by police is an obsessive concern. Support for the aged and access to quality hospice care is vital. Somehow, those perfectly consistent political values don’t show up in Republican policy. Why?
We’re often told that Republicans’ tolerance for horrifying politics is justified by their interest in babies. Everyone, including your remaining Republican friends, should understand this lie before we run out of time.
How do you make sense of those dozens of pro-life Republican cops in Uvalde turning pepper spray on parents while refusing to confront a child-killer? Why did “pro-life” Republicans pass an abortion ban so cruel and punitive that pregnant women are forced to travel to neighboring states for life-saving medical interventions? Why are pro-life Republicans going to pour every ounce of their political energy to protect access to their metal death cocks no matter how many kids they kill? Everything we need to know about our looming civil war sits in the gap between Republican pro-life rhetoric and Republican no lives matter policies.
Republicans care passionately about every potential life from the moment they knock her up until a few minutes before the hospital bill arrives. Once that precious life clears the birth canal it’s just another taker looking for a handout. In Republican cosmology, the purpose of children is to keep women dependent and available.
What’s going on here?
Starting in the sixties and continuing in a series of cascades lasting until about 2004, white southerners left the Democratic Party, fleeing from Democrats’ embrace of minorities and women’s rights. For decades, these hardened white nationalists found their influence in American politics constrained by the demands of coalition politics inside the Democratic Party. Once they left en masse, around the late 80’s and early 90’s, they overwhelmed the thin Republican infrastructure in Southern states, finding themselves in charge of local Republican politics almost overnight. When that wave of white flight was finally completed early this century, America’s most hardened white nationalist voters completely controlled our second political party.
A political party that until the 1980’s had been dominated by college educated suburban professionals, was by 2010 the party of America’s white Lumpenproletariat. My former political party is now a screeching Fascist machine bent on restoring the power of white men, and their friendly collaborators, by any means necessary.
What will it take for mediocre white men to restore some portion of the power and preference they once enjoyed? Dismantling America’s nascent democracy. Neutering federal power. Destroying any form of social safety net or community support that provides help to women and minorities (especially access to healthcare outside the family or employment). Shutting down the free exchange of education and information. Promoting Fascist-friendly religion as a substitute for every form of government or community support.
There’s nothing new about this formula. It’s how Franco and Salazar installed durable Fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal. It’s how Orban installed his Fascist regime in Hungary and how a similar Fascism is growing in Poland. And it’s how Republicans will make their next election victory the last free election in the US before the war.
Republicans, like Fascists everywhere, need “strong men,” in our case meaning white men, who enjoy a playing field tipped in their favor in every way. Those men will “protect” masses of brood mares, stripped of access to any form of social support outside marriage or family, strapped in place by kids, and shielded from imaginary criminal threats from some designated minority. In our case, that designated minority is usually marauding blacks or whatever immigrant is washing up on our shores this week.
Abortion politics isn’t about kids. Republicans won’t spare a single precious bullet to save a schoolkid. Abortion politics is about restoring women to their status as the world’s first slaves. That’s why Republicans won’t spare a few bucks for health insurance or maternity leave to protect kids. Republicans bitterly oppose all of the policies, from sex education to universal health insurance to maternity leave that would actually reduce the number of abortions because Fascists need women and children to be trapped, dependent, sick and poor. Healthy, educated, happy children and women are a Fascists’ nightmare.
Republicans love fetuses and hate kids because for Fascists, pregnancy is a weapon. Kids, on the other hand, are an incidental side-effect of that weapon, a kink in the narrative. The Nazis at least needed them to become soldiers, inspiring a degree of interest in their health and survival. Modern Fascists don’t have the same needs. For today’s white nationalists, kids are, at best, an additional burden pressing down on women. Kids can be useful as long as they can’t get any form of support beyond the grudging benevolence of a white father and his racist church.
There is no inconsistency in Republican politics. Abortion is evil because it undermines the power of insecure white men. Mass gun mayhem is good because it protects the power of insecure white men. Public education, books, honest journalism and college are bad because they undermine the power of insecure white men. Fox News and Newsmax are good because disinformation protects the power of insecure white men.
Fetuses should be protected because forced pregnancy increases the power of insecure white men. Kids, on the other hand, are bad because they place demands on insecure white men. A public safety net is bad because it decreases dependency on mediocre white men. Student loan forgiveness is bad because some women might wriggle out of their chains.
Why do white women, and women who hope to become white, support Republicans? Their reasons are generally the same as their husbands’. White men, and men who aspire to be white like those cops in Uvalde, support disastrous Fascist politics because it promises to restore a fragment of their lost power. Fascists promise to let you live in a lousier world where you will personally be slightly better off than before. Here’s the Republican pitch in a nutshell – You’ll live in a world of prison camps, but you’ll get to be a guard.
Republicans extend that same offer to women and it carries particular resonance for women whose life prospects have already been dimmed by Fascism. You got knocked up during your freshman year in college. Unlike your “slut” cousin who got an abortion, finished school, started a career, and lives downtown in a fancy condo with her husband, fancy dog and one kid, you had the kid and the married the guy. You’re the good girl who did the righteous thing and you’re living with the righteous consequences. Why should some nasty ‘ho get to do whatever she wants without consequences while you’re stuck here with no comfort but God’s favor? Republicans offer her the chance to be a guard in their police state and she’ll swing that baton with a smile.
Yes, we could have avoided this mess if Democrats hadn’t lost touch with their voters decades ago. Had America maintained its critical safety net, kept pace with public needs, and remained a decent place for ordinary people to live, we would not face this threat. However, we will not become a decent place to live again without defeating this threat. There is no negotiating or compromising with a bunch of people who will kill schoolchildren to protect their ambitions. Republicans aren’t confused. They aren’t misunderstanding their interests. When it seems like people are voting against their interests, chances are I’ve misunderstood their interests.
Republicans love fetuses and hate kids because that’s the shape of their political agenda. Republicans are the party of an American Fascism more potent than this country has ever faced. They will hurt you with a smile. We have a narrow window in which to exercise electoral power before that era ends. Use it while we can and prepare for what comes after.