Come, Let Us Reason Together: Countering Adolescent Republican Thinking

Character counts. Empathy and compassion count. Logic, rational thinking and understanding consequences count. These traits are universally embraced as “adult-ing”, being of sound-mind and maturity. To be lacking these is to be an adolescent, a novice, even a fool. It seems to me that many leaders in the Republican Party are looking to adolescent thinking as the guidepost for their goals and actions. It is as if Republican leaders have become drunk frat boys, seeing how far they can push the limits…well for everything.

They seem to want to see how many malignantly religious, authoritarian, and just plain fascist ideas they can foist on the American people. Each adoption of extreme ideology just encourages more; e.g., challenging the election system and voting rights, creating the idea there is white-shaming in American history instruction, and that history should be carefully taught, with extreme penalties for teachers who deviate. (What does this even mean? Apparently, now it extends to math as well because math books have also been banned for these reasons?) Who knew that Mickey Mouse would become such a champion for gay kids when in Florida the “Can’t Say Gay” bill now is signed? And of course, the red state obsession with guns, passing unfettered gun possession bills, that lead to tragedy.

Forget about “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” what’s the matter with Texas? Denying health care services for trans kids, pushing to not allow immigrant children to be educated, these are crazy enough, but the abortion bills, are down-right Draconian.

A guaranteed right for over 50 years is now a felony, punishable with prison and extreme fines, and even possible death penalty. The bounty-hunter element to these proposals is beyond unreasonable. This is reminiscent of the slave trade and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and of Nazis rewarding those who turned in their Jewish neighbors. These laws will truly burden the adjacent states who do provide women’s health services. As Texas goes, so goes many other of the southern red states. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have followed suit with more of the same and worse. Although, my favorite clueless-old-white-man-award, goes to Ohio when they tried to pass a bill that would make it a felony if physicians did not remove and then implant an ectopic pregnancy into a women’s uterus. Honorable mention goes to Missouri who wanted to make the removing of life-threatening ectopic pregnancies a felony. It is becoming a case of Red State “Can You Top This?”

It is clear that Republican representatives have such hubris and control issues that they think they have medical opinions, and that these opinions are superior to any expertise the medical profession, CDC, and FDA
hold.

The last three years of the pandemic are evidence of this hubris. Refusing to follow sound public health guidelines, shunning masks, defying mandates, demanding unproven medications to treat COVID and following unfounded practices, Q-anon conspiracies, and unlicensed practitioners are all evidence of a serious, massive scale, adolescent narcissism.

Take Arizona, they have passed bills that say that medical directors can no longer tell their staff what to do or how to conduct themselves. In addition, it is now illegal for hospitals to limit the number of visitors allowed in a hospital room.
Clearly, legislators need to butt-out of medical issues. They do not have the expertise to make any decisions regarding the practice of medicine, or to interfere with a doctor and their patient.

So what does this mean for the future?
In recent history, the Supreme Court has inferred from the 14th Amendment that this amendment puts limits on the government’s ability to take away people’s liberty unfairly. Courts have interpreted this as implying a right to privacy and personal autonomy involving decisions regarding people’s bodies and relationships.

Justice Alito has made it clear in his opinions that his hard jurisprudential line on abortion is based on the argument that for an unwritten liberty/right to be legitimate, it must be deeply rooted in the nation’s history and have been understood to exist when the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868. As we all know, reproduction freedom and the right to privacy wasn’t even a thing in 1868. So what does that mean if the Supreme Court wants to take our current personal liberties back to 1868? Justice Alito says that this interpretation only applies to abortion rights and won’t extend to others. However, like abortion rights, many other rights, like gay and inter-racial marriage, and the availability and use of contraceptives, involve personal freedoms. These contemporary rights are not mentioned in the Constitution, but whose existence the Supreme Court has inferred from the 14th Amendment.

Up until now, the Supreme Court in recent years has done little to overturn precedent¸ but the make-up of the court has taken a sharp right turn. Both Justice Breyer and Kagan have warned in dissent that the court was becoming too disrespectful of precedent. This does not give me any confidence that the “we’re on a roll” conservative justices will stop at this, and not erode further our personal freedoms and choices. Perhaps just as concerning is that the whole situation and partisan trajectory undermines the entire judicial sanctity of the Court. The current Justices’ legacy may be a public loss of confidence in the Judicial Branch and Courts. Red States will continue to see just how far they can push their agendas to control all aspects of education, personal freedoms of who we love, and how we define ourselves, medical decisions, and who can vote.

It is incredible to me how fast this has all come about, this tyranny of the minority. The majority of Americans want to keep our personal freedoms intact. The abortion debate is settled law and has been for 50 years. Colorado has rejected time, and time again, at a majority of 70 percent, any bills or laws that suggest a change to Roe vs. Wade, or that involve personhood of fetuses.

If the Conservative Right gains control of the House and or Senate, there will be no turning back from this trajectory. If they win the mid-terms, they will most likely succeed in making abortion illegal for the nation, not just a state’s rights issue. In addition, they have also set their sights on undermining Social Security and Medicare. Our future weighs in the balance. Are we the diversity and cooperation nation, cemented in science and logic as the future presented in Star Trek, or are we the oppressive, dysfunctional, dystopian nation of Handmaid’s Tale?

Engagement or apathy will determine the future. To make a difference, to make a future you want means involvement now. We have to get people to vote. We need to work hard to vote out those who think they should have the last say in our personal affairs. We must unite and get voters to vote for Blue, progressive candidates who will preserve our freedoms and make it so the majority is not undermined by the minority. We need voters who realize we are in the 21st century and are facing very real, existential threats to our existence in many ways. Get involved, help us get out the vote, stand up and make your voice count, we can do this. Marches and rallies have already begun. This will be a summer of protest, of marches, of campaigns and calls to get out the vote. Please don’t be complacent, your voice and activism is needed.

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