Thursday, February 3, 2011

One Fewer Reason to Vote Democratic

Back in 2000 when I was a wee thing, all my friends were voting for Nader. Everywhere I went people were talking about him with lots of excitement; when he drew a full crowd and lots of celebs to Madison Square Garden I was ambivalent about him for lots of reasons, and went back and forth on how I would vote right up until I got into the booth - I even remember reading and thinking about all the 'swap a vote with swing state' schemes that were going on. Seems quaint, doesn't it? Folks who've been made to feel embarrassed in retrospect that they voted for Nader can take heart that at the time I was very embarrassed that I didn't end up voting for him.

One of my roommates at the time wasn't having it. All her friends were voting for Nader too and I remember the button she was wearing that she also gave me, that's probably lying around in my collection somewhere. It said, "it's the Supreme Court, stupid." Nobody had to tell me or anyone else what it meant: fall in line, vote Democratic, or else Roe gets overturned. I've known plenty of people for whom this was a deciding factor in not going third party, or in motivating them to vote when they were otherwise apathetic, as well as otherwise apolitical or centrist women (and men) who felt motivated to vote Democratic because of choice. One of the things that frustrated me about the discussion around What's the Matter With Kansas and the whole cultural versus economic issues frame is that, aside from drawing artificial distinctions (how is the denial of benefits for one kind of health care to millions of poor women since the Hyde amendment not an economic issue?), it led people to talk as if all the juice was on the prolife side, as if getting rid of the issue (which is difficult and who likes to talk about it anyway?) could be nothing but a boon to Democrats, in spite of the fact that their stand on the issue was being used to keep Democratic voters who had highly legitimate questions about what their party stood for in line.

This week a lot of folks are rightly up in arms about HR3, which has gotten the most attention for its 'redefining rape' bullshit, since withdrawn, but is terrible for lots of other reasons too. Nine of its co-sponsers are Democrats, and so when the DCCC sent out a petition attacking Republicans, Sady and others have done a great job calling them out. As many have pointed out, even the existing rape exception is pretty feeble, given the hoops it sets up for anyone who would want to access it. The longstanding existence of the Hyde amendment is yet another example of how successful Republicans have been in washing wielding their 'taxpayer's rights' crap while the rest of us are stuck paying tons more for torture and fail to make more than a peep about it.

Is this the plan of the new Congress - a kind of inversion of Frank's thesis: vote for tax cuts and get abortion restrictions?

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