Saturday, November 10, 2012

No Really, The GOP Can Go Die

Not Taiwan related, but whatever.

My assessment of why the Republicans lost so bad in the election boils down to this: not only did they lie, but they kept telling people what their lives should be like, what their options should be, how things should work out for them, rather than listening to what people were saying about how their lives actually are. People, who don't like to be told what their lives are like despite their own experience, who don't like to be condescended or mansplained to, called 'em on it and didn't vote for them.

Let me give an example of this sort of attitude. In a comment on an article in a well-known online magazine, I gave a few facts about myself (while trying to stay anonymous). I won't copy the comment itself, but here are the basics:

- That I am a married woman who doesn't want kids, and therefore access to my reproductive rights is important to me, not something I am "not concerned about" or "isn't a part of my life" according to conservative pundits.

- That for me and many other women, control over when and how many children to have is an economic issue, it's not a belief voted on over other more pressing economic issues. Children are expensive to deliver and raise and being concerned about this absolutely boils down to economics (not for us - we could afford a child - that's not our reason, but it's the reason for many).

- That I may be fairly well-off now, but there was a time when I earned in the low 20s and lived in an expensive part of the country. I couldn't get a more affordable apartment farther from the city as I couldn't afford the car I'd need to do so. I lived a mile from the nearest metro station as it was (albeit in a pretty nice rented townhouse with roommates). I definitely felt an economic impact - I had to budget very carefully to get by in that city, even as an income in the low 20s would have been better in other areas.

- That as a result, in my early-to-mid 20s I couldn't access or afford oral birth control. I couldn't take over the counter meds that were sold at affordable prices because I happen to be very sensitive to contraceptive side effects (more information than you really need about me, but it's important as many women have this issue). I had insurance but the co-pays were so high that on my low-ish income I couldn't afford pills even with coverage. I budgeted for the necessities - food, one phone (cell only, no landline), Internet, housing, transport, a bit for other expenditures such as clothing, emergencies, visits home, and very little left over for fun. There was no room in my budget for that. Now, imagine a woman who has no insurance or whose insurance doesn't cover contraceptives - they'd be in even more dire straits. Clinics (like Planned Parenthood) were difficult for me, as I couldn't easily get time off during business hours, I worked in the suburbs and had to take a bus (meaning no lunch hour visits), I'd get home after evening hours were done, and so the only time I could go was Saturdays. The only clinic with Saturday hours was in a very bad area - one that a white woman wouldn't want to walk in alone (I don't say this to be racist - I say it as a matter of fact. Pizza delivery wouldn't even deliver there. It was not safe). I wasn't poor but I was just getting by, as were many people I knew, and there was no room in our budgets for such things.

- That abortion is basically inaccessible to many women, even with Roe v. Wade in effect. Some states have done a remarkable job of removing visits to Planned Parenthood or getting abortions as an option for women in their state. Looking at Missouri (not where I lived, but relevant), abortion is not accessible to women who can't get time off work to travel to one of the six clinics in the state, who can't afford to travel to one (and Missouri is a big state, most women live some traveling distance from one), who can't afford the hotel or time off for the 24-hour waiting period, for women who can't afford an abortion but who were not impregnated due to rape or incest, and their life is not in danger, and to minors whose parents don't consent. Missouri is not a wealthy state - that makes abortion inaccessible to many, if not most, women in that state. Roe v. Wade and its remaning the law of the land is irrelevant when it comes to these real-life issues.

- That I moved abroad not only because I wanted to learn another language and immerse myself in another culture, but because I had better career opportunities abroad, and finally, for better health insurance because America's current "system" SUCKS. It sucks for anyone with a pre-existing condition, for anyone who can't afford their premiums, their copays or their deductibles but also can't afford a better plan, for anyone who is unemployed or has a job that doesn't offer benefits, for someone who needs coverage and has a pre-existing condition but wants to start their own business or go freelance and can't afford it while maintaining insurance. That as much as Americans crow about how foreigners come to America for care, people from Taiwan who live in America often come back to Taiwan for similarly high-quality but affordable care, and you don't hear a lot of expats complaining or returning to America for care. I've never heard one.

And what I got told was that none of this was true: that if I didn't want to go to a known dangerous neighborhood then I was clearly racist, that I could go on my lunch hour to a "nearby" clinic, that I couldn't possibly have moved abroad in part because I wanted socialized health insurance, that I could have bought cheap OTC birth control at Wal-Mart (there was no Wal-Mart near me, thankfully, but I took his meaning to be 'a pharmacy'), that I was lying about how difficult/impossible it was to go to a clinic, that my story of "bad side effects" from OTC birth control was a "lie", and that America clearly has the best health care in the world, and that abortion was a non-issue because "we have Roe v. Wade" so, basically, quit yer whinin'.

That right there is what I mean - this commenter was telling me what my life was like - despite not living my life, and not even knowing me. He was telling me what my options should be, what my choices are, what I could do, rather than listening to me when I told him what my life was actually like, and listening to the statistics on how accessible abortion really is to women across the country, despite Roe v. Wade. It was condescending, it was mansplaining (the commenter was male and thought he knew better than me what my own experience was), it was holier-than-thou, and it was not listening.

And this is why the Republicans lost - because their entire party line has become like that. They keep telling people what their lives are like, and don't listen to what people are saying about what their lives are actually like.

They tell women what their options are, rather than listening to women talk about their options.

They say that equal pay is not an issue when it clearly is.

They tell minorities what their experience is, rather than listening to women talk about their experience.

They spew "facts" about immigration rather than listening to those who have immigrated or want to immigrate. (Fortunately this seems poised to change).

They reduce the entirety of the American lower classes to "moochers" and "takers" without listening to what the lower classes say they do and what they need. They refuse to hear that many poor people work hard and need a leg up to no longer be poor, and characterize them instead as "not taking personal responsibility". You ever been poor and tried to not be poor? Yeah, NOT SO EASY, is it?

They talk about how much the haves are subsidizing the have-nots without listening to the facts of how much the haves really are paying for.

They tell the LGBT community that they're "not homophobic" while ignoring the needs of the LGBT community and pushing clearly homophobic platforms, prioritizing their religion and shitty "morals" (I spit on those morals) over what people actually want and need.

They tell those who are sick what their health care options should be rather than what they are ("you can just go to the emergency room" - great, but that doesn't work if your problem is cancer and is not immediate or acute. You can't get ER treatment for cancer, psychiatric issues or diabetes or any other number of diseases).

They tell the middle class that they'll get jobs only if they give breaks to "job creators" without listening to what the middle class actually needs (infrastructure, affordable education and job training, affordable housing and childcare options), and ignoring the fact that trickle-down economics just plain does not work. Ignoring clear statistics - if you give a person in need money, that money generates more for the economy. If you give a wealthy person money, they tend to squirrel it away or invest it in ways that benefit them, but not others, and generate a net loss for the economy.

They tell those affected by climate change that it's more important to prop up Big Oil than to acknowledge climate change, and then try to pretend climate change away. "No, you didn't get hit by a natural disaster or have your crops ruined, or can't afford rising food costs due to climate change, now shut up and vote for me".

They tell the poor that they shouldn't want "things and stuff", and should ignore the fact that there are those who have far more "things and stuff" than they need and are pushing policies that make it harder for others to get the same things...and stuff. But wait - why shouldn't I want things and stuff? You have things and stuff because the balance of power is in your favor. Why should I find that fair?

They tell teens and parents of teens what their attitudes should be - "just don't have sex, wait 'till you're married", as though that has ever worked in the history of ever - rather than acknowledging the need for sex ed based on what is.

And that's why they only won one segment of the population. One that I daresay is easily duped, or for whom the message is carefully calibrated. And if people are upset that women and minorities are sick of being condescended to, then that's their problem - and if they want to say that in the most racist terms possible

The rest of us are sick and fucking tired of being told what our lives are like, and would like people in power to instead listen to us to find out what our lives are actually like.

And until the GOP understands this and stops with their condescension and unfair characterizations, and wrong assumptions about people they don't understand, they're just not going to win among anyone other than non-urban white males. We're sick of it. Get with the times or get lost.


Mike Fagan said...

I'll take "get lost". Declare bankruptcy and leave you people to pay off the U.S.$17 trillion you've racked up in free condoms etc...

Anonymous said...

" That for me and many other women, control over when and how many children to have is an economic issue, it's not a belief voted on over other more pressing economic issues. Children are expensive to deliver and raise and being concerned about this absolutely boils down to economics (not for us - we could afford a child - that's not our reason, but it's the reason for many)."

Hear, hear.
My husband and I are in the same boat with you. We do not want children. It's not that we can't afford it but rather we simply do not want to have them. It's also medical reason. I almost died during childbirth and I have the same issues with my mother (who had complications while having me). That's another issue all on its own.

Republicans should only blame themselves for this. They pissed off women, minorities, and the immigration. I saw on the news how if Republicans don't revamp themselves, they will slowly become instinct.

I told my husband if only men could get pregnant; I wonder what they would say then.

Equal pay is an issue, for sure.

J said...

The US govt racked up 17 trillion in debt on condoms and I DIDNT GET ANY FREE CONDOMS? This is an outrage!

Jenna Cody said...

Haha, thanks bro.

I was gonna leave that one alone and just let it stand as something we could chuckle at. Your comment was funnier than anything I could have come up with.