GOP lawmakers stuck in attack mode

in Contributors/Terry Manning/Voices by

I think we sometimes forget politics is about people. Literally. It originates in the Greek politika, affairs of the cities. It’s supposed to be about how we find ways to relate to each other, hopefully peacefully. 

So why do Republicans seem intent on using their political influence to attack? 

There’s no desire to “relate to each other.” There’s only the quest to gain, maintain and expand power, to elevate one constituency and to beat down – sometimes literally – all others. Look at the agendas GOP lawmakers across the country are pursuing. 

First and foremost is their assault on voting rights. The Big Lie that the past presidential election was stolen is the driving factor behind a broad series of moves by red-state legislatures to “secure the vote” or “to make voting easier and cheating harder.” Never mind election fraud is virtually nonexistent, but making voting “easier?” 

If that’s the case, why is the Heritage Foundation bragging about writing the bills being used in these GOP-led states to advance their cause of voter suppression? The measures limit hours at polling places, reduce the number of days for early voting, eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require surrendering personal information to request absentee ballots … you get the idea. 

Even Republicans who accept the election was free and fair are voting for these measures. You can ask Liz Cheney what happens to anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. 

The transgender population is another target. 

The Human Rights Campaign calls 2021 a record-shattering year for legislative attacks on transgender rights. Proposals include bans on participating in school sports or getting gender-confirming medical treatments, affirming rights to refuse providing care to transgenders on religious grounds, and preventing discussing LGBTQ issues in the classroom. No talking in class! Especially about (whispering) those people. 

According to CNN, those most affected would be children. Most of us were able to make it through puberty without worrying we might break the law by joining the high school track team. We can wonder on an instinctive level whether boys and girls can compete on a level playing field physiologically, but we’re not amoebae. There are experts available to advise on these matters. Sorry, I forgot we don’t like experts anymore. 

A cursory glance at other bills proposed by Republicans in just the past few weeks reveals their relentlessness in attacking people – and facts – they don’t like. 

– Rep. Perry Scott (R-PA) last week introduced a bill to ban funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This came after Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci sparred over whether the National Institutes of Health funded WIV research making viruses more infectious and easier to study. Fauci said NIH does not, but hey, Paul ranting at Fauci looked good on TV, so, … 

– Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) proposed ending federal unemployment compensation related to the pandemic. Republicans like to say these enhanced benefits are making it harder for small businesses to find employees to help them recover lost business. Study after study has shown this not to be the case, but again, once you’ve adopted a talking point you gotta support it, right? 

– Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) introduced a measure preventing executive agencies from offering race or gender diversity training in adherence to an executive order by the previous administration. Owens somehow overlooked an injunction had already been declared against the order and that President Biden revoked it earlier this year. 

Owens introduced another measure against “Critical Race Theory” being part of public school curricula. (Sigh) “Critical race theory” is another label conservatives rally around without knowing what it means, but in a nutshell, they say being truthful about the discrimination and racial violence in the nation’s history is racist against white people and makes schoolchildren think America is slightly less than the greatest country on earth. 

Owens is Black and should know better, but he also is a former Democrat anxious to establish his conservative credentials by advancing Fox News talking points and writing books like his “Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps.” There’s a guy you can trust to be impartial. 

People like to say about politics, “Both sides are the same.” I dismiss that as lazy thinking or, worse, delusion. Or, as one commenter wrote on Facebook, “When people say ‘both sides,’ it usually means they know their side is wrong.” 

Terry E. Manning lives and works in Savannah, Ga. He is a Clemson graduate and worked for 20 years as a journalist. He can be reached at teemanning@gmail.com.