My Point of View: Which party is really of good family, Christian values?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

When a mask slips, take a closer look.

Republicans claim to be the party of “family values” and supposedly want “traditional families” where moms stay home. Now when moms stay home because wages are too low and child care expenses and other demands are too high, Republicans don’t celebrate the shift, they lament the short supply of low wage labor.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Republicans also talk about inflation at every opportunity, but if they cared about how inflation affects people’s buying power, they would have voted to raise the federal minimum wage a long time ago. It’s been stuck at $7.25 an hour since Democrats raised it in 2009, and it’s worth about 18% less today than it was 12 years ago.

Only a small handful of Republicans have supported raising the federal minimum wage to a level at which everyone would have the dignity of earning more than poverty wages for full time work. Our congressman is not among them. Jim Hagedorn staunchly defends allowing poverty wages for full time work.

Extracting as much value from workers as possible instead of paying fair wages makes CEOs and shareholders wealthier and more powerful. They are the true Republican constituency.

Brad Kramer took a shot at Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig in this column last week for going on paternity leave this fall. Again, this is devaluing family and the round-the-clock care it takes to nurture two newborn babies. This is another example of how Republicans actually devalue family obligations.

Republicans have appealed to Christian identity on the basis of its so-called “family values,” but the party does not put the values of Jesus Christ front and center.

Greed, extraction and exploitation are not Christian values, but they are central to capitalism. The Republican platform bows to this golden Wall Street calf, not Christ, and the split is becoming more glaring every year.

The values of capitalism supersede everything else in the GOP, yet Evangelical Christians still remain a crucial voting block to achieve its ends. How much longer will Christians who take the Gospel to heart go along with it?

Republicans try to convince voters that the only other choice is communism and its implied atheism. This is a false choice.

Regulated capitalism, which is what Democrats push for at every turn, equals resiliency and protection for ordinary Americans who make up the large majority of our population.

Republicans have tried to claw away these protections for decades. Now the Supreme Court’s new conservative supermajority, engineered by Mitch McConnell’s norm-breaking, recently agreed to consider whether to prohibit the EPA from placing limits on greenhouse emissions from power plants.

Kramer is blissfully naive to think companies would voluntarily protect the environment if it means lowering their profit margins. We all learned the hard way with Mayo Clinic that even a health care nonprofit with large operating margins won’t keep a hospital open in a city of 18,000 if it means saving a buck.

Laws are what protect us from dumping (or being dumped, as the case may be), not wishful dependence on voluntary compliance or corporate largesse.

One would also think saving lives of family members would be a priority of a “family values” party that identifies with Christianity. Yet a high percentage of leaders in the Republican party have decided that facts about COVID vaccination’s decisive life-saving effectiveness must be ignored at all costs and body counts.

At the county board workshop on Oct. 12, commissioner Brad Edwin repeatedly objected to the idea that incentivizing Freeborn County employees to get a COVID vaccination was the “right thing” to do.

That very same day, Sanford Health was displaying in its facilities a chart of its COVID hospitalizations, including those in rural Minnesota. Of 211 patients hospitalized, 192 were unvaccinated and just 19 were vaccinated. Of the 30 COVID patients on ventilators, 29 were unvaccinated and only one was vaccinated.

If almost everyone were vaccinated, the overall COVID numbers would have been a fraction of the total. That means better outcomes, lives saved, fewer medical bills and far less stress on our healthcare workers.

So, yes, getting vaccinated is the “right thing” to do. It’s also the moral thing, the Christian thing, the pro-life thing, the smart thing and the pragmatic thing to do. I’m grateful that my commissioner, John Forman, broke with his party’s dogma and took the common-sense approach when he voted to approve the plan a week later.

Meanwhile, Republicans like Brad Kramer thunder about mandates and pine for personal freedom without social responsibility.

The Republican Party has unfortunately become neither Christian nor conservative.


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