My Point of View: Democrats offer far more substantial support for mothers

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Democrats in Washington are bargaining hard for major infrastructure projects, paid medical leave and extending Biden’s child tax credits, which have dramatically reduced the rate of child poverty.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Progressives in the House of Representatives may not get their bid to expand Medicare benefits for hearing, dental and eye coverage, not because it isn’t popular (it’s extremely popular) but because it may be blocked by a few conservative Democrats worried about losing their seats to Republicans in the midterms.

Democrats have had to do these negotiations among their own ranks without a single Republican in support. Almost every person in our country would see the benefits personally or up close if the Democrats’ two major pieces of legislation pass. The bills are paid for mainly with tax increases on corporations and wealthier Americans.

Republicans, on the other hand, bargain strenuously only for tax breaks that mostly benefit the wealthiest 1%. The benefits do not trickle down. It happened in 2003 and again in 2017. Not a single Democrat supported the 2017 tax giveaway to wealthy people.

Less than 40% of Americans approved of the 2017 tax cuts. Republicans, with control of Congress and Trump in the White House, passed it anyway.

The Republicans’ cuts promptly piled up our debt.

Democrats fight hard for working families who don’t know lobbyists by name on K Street and don’t have the means to donate thousands of dollars to multiple campaign coffers.

Republicans fight hard for monied interests, for people who do have lobbyists at their disposal and write big campaign checks. Republicans’ preferred constituency has special access that very few enjoy.

Democrats are pro-family and pro-democracy. Republicans are pro-wealth hoarding, even though obscene inequality strangles democracy.

The differences between the parties could hardly be starker.

Democrats’ economic legislation enjoys far more popular support, which is why Republicans depend so heavily on wedge issues like abortion to get people to vote against their economic interests.

Why do Republicans choose abortion? Because it’s a way to control women, particularly poor women who are an underpaid segment of the labor force. It means more money and power for those at the top (the donor class Republicans represent) who extract value from their labor.

Our state Sen. Gene Dornink, who co-sponsored a draconian abortion ban bill very similar to the one Rep. Peggy Bennett co-sponsored in the state House, thinks there is a double standard in the fact that women have the right to choose abortion, yet nobody has the right to purposely end a woman’s pregnancy against her will.

That reminds me of the time I sat in a courtroom in Brainerd as a high school student and watched a judge sternly question a man about kicking his pregnant girlfriend in the abdomen during a domestic assault.

Dornink doesn’t think women should have control over their own bodies, and the man who beat his pregnant girlfriend thought he should have control over her body. These are two expressions of the same destructive value — misogyny — and they are inextricably linked.

Dornink also shared a dinky list of the ways that Republicans want to help make it “easier” for women to choose having a baby.

It doesn’t include paid family leave, nor child care subsidies, nor higher minimum wage, nor affordable tuition. For everything he mentioned in his column last week, the Democrats offer far more substantial support for mothers.

Bottom line: if you want to make it easier for women to choose having a baby, you should vote for Democrats. If you trust women to have control over their own fertility, also vote for Democrats.

What is good for women and their babies is good for families. Misogyny is not a family value.

When men have chosen to target children and adults in a long list of places like Sandy Hook Elementary, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and King Soopers, they haven’t armed themselves with uteri and ovaries full of eggs.

Furthermore, you can go about your business without worrying that a woman will shred you with her uterus at a movie theater or that her uterus will accidentally go off and give you mortal egg wounds.

But to Republicans, uteri are dangerous and must be controlled, while actual weapons used to annihilate loved ones and emotionally gut entire communities should have few, if any, restrictions.

Again, misogyny is the foundation for Republican stances on these issues, not a “pro-life” bearing. Anti-abortion billboards with babies is pretty packaging for a dark impulse that has driven monstrous deeds and unjust suffering throughout history.

Being afraid of the generative power of women leads some people to think they should be controlled by authorities. It is bizarre how many people are still willing to trade their grandparents’ hearing for any chance to deny women bodily autonomy.

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