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My Point of View: Republican Party is not as pro-life as it often claims

My Point View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has made one thing more clear than ever, it’s that the Republican Party is not “pro-life.” It’s merely anti-abortion, and its fanatiscism for saving lives ends at birth. More accurately, the GOP is pro-big business and pro-controlling women’s reproductive business.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has smugly sat for months on a second stimulus package passed by Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives, choosing to push through lifetime appointments for reactionary judges instead of offering an immediate lifeline to millions of American workers and their families to help them stay home, stay safe and reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

McConnell is willfully deaf to the appeals of regular people, and he smiles Mona Lisa-like as COVID wipes out the jobs, health and savings of millions of Americans. He only has ears for donors with deep pockets.

According to the GOP’s position, it’s the “pre-born” who need protection. This includes being in favor of forcing women to carry babies who develop without brains to term so they can die at birth.

Born people, though, are for capitalism to exploit as workers and consumers, and their value is in creating wealth for those at the top. Profits are the most important marker of success to Republicans, not prevailing wages, quality of life or life expectancy.

Life expectancy, which had been increasing for decades, has dipped in the U.S. since 2014. Yet, to the GOP, it’s not an alarming sign of societal decay and deviation from our industrialized peers, because the party is focused on the stock market’s wellbeing.

Earlier this year, CNBC reported that 87% of stock value is owned by the wealthiest 10% of households. Last week, Ivanka Trump vapidly celebrated the new Dow Jones Industrial Average record of 30,000 points as a “see, everything is great” moment.

Everything is not great. That same day, the U.S. reported 177,000 new COVID cases. Unemployment remains nearly twice as high as it was at the beginning of the year. It’s deeply out-of-touch to gloss over this reality and congratulate rich people for doing better than ever.

Is it “pro-life” to care more about the fortunes of billionaires (who have increased their net worths by over $600 billion this year) instead of the nearly 275,000 Americans who have lost their precious lives to COVID-19? No, it’s not. The “pro-life” moniker of the Republican Party is a big lie. In truth, it is instead pro-birth, including forced birth.

In fact, the GOP has undermined measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 at every turn this year. They have made the pandemic worse, because they are looking out for the interests of big business first. This has had deadly consequences for tens of thousands of people.

Look no further than Georgia, where two wealthy GOP U.S. senators, both appointed, are in run-off elections with Democratic opponents. These races will determine control of the U.S. senate and probably the fate of the Affordable Care Act, which extended health coverage to millions. Both Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue allegedly made large stock trades based on insider information they received about COVID in committee, and furthermore, they failed to act quickly to protect their constituents’ health. They got richer while Georgians got sicker.

It is illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading under the STOCK Act, which Tim Walz co-sponsored when he was our U.S. representative. What a difference it makes to have representatives who look out for the public interest, not their own financial interests. I hope that Georgians elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the senate, and remove Mitch McConnell from the levers of power he has so skillfully abused.

In Minnesota we’re lucky to now have Tim Walz serving as our governor, where he continues to serve the public interest in a very challenging time, beset both by state Republican obstructionism and an onslaught of misinformation about COVID-19 spread through social media. Walz has been remarkably steady and tough.

Relying purely on markets to get us out of the pandemic would be a disaster. Our country has long recognized the wisdom of a mixed economy, and we have popular elements of socialism in programs such as Social Security, Medicare and public K-12 education. A mixed economy gives us the best balance for both strong growth and a healthy, long-lived population.

People who use socialism as a scare word are serving the interests of business magnates, wealthy heirs and politicians who could care less about regular people.

Legisation that Democrats fight for in the wider public interest — instead of the financial interests of a few — are inherently pro-life. If you want to support candidates who are pro-life in an overall sense rather than in a narrow, gestation-limited and woman-mistrusting way, vote for Democrats.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.