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Now that Susan Collins has provided the necessary final vote to push the McConnell-Ryan-Trump tax outrage over the finish line, might it be appropriate to broaden our view of what constitutes sexual harassment?

sexual abuse broadened

Senator Collins, from the impoverished state of Maine, has from time to time pretended to be a “compassionate conservative,” and a “moderating” influence on the corporate excesses of her Republican Party. Earlier this year, she overcame her deep hatred for universal health care to accept her constituents’ desires, and ended up voting against the Republican effort to destroy ObamaCare. And she has made occasional noises about wanting to protect children and the poorest of the poor in her posturing on the tax bill.

She lied when she said she would require a bill protecting DACA children as a prerequisite to her support for the tax bill. In the end she abandoned her support for Dreamer protection, and embraced the Republican Party’s corporate welfare bill. And when push came to shove, she signed on to a bill that seeks to destroy ObamaCare by eliminating the individual mandate to buy insurance.

Perhaps some of her constituents may look into her investments, and see whether she, like Bob Corker, got a multi-million dollar ANNUAL payday for her real estate investments from the Republican Party tax bill.

When it comes down to it, Susan Collins joined her Republican Party sisters, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Deb Fisher (Nebraska), and Shelley Capito (West Virginia) IN throwing children under the bus, breaking up families and ending health care, for nothing more than a personal increased payday.

These women senators get to do this, without any scrutiny or criticism, because progressive Americans have been focused on the much more important issue of sexual abuse. This occurs because we have been so narrow in our definitions of sexual abuse.

Unwanted touching by a man (but not by a woman?) IS sexual abuse. Woman should be applauded for having the courage to speak out about what has too long been accepted as normal, or “just the way things are.” For people who believe that the complaints have gotten too loud or too frequent, the reality is that the voices we have heard have been from a small minority, who find exceptional courage, or live in circumstances in which they feel secure enough to speak out.

Most women still have reasons to fear, and to remain silent, or at least quiet. Most women live in economic uncertainty, or downright poverty, dependent on the generosity of men (and sometimes other women) for the necessities of life. They depend on others for education and health care, even if they are able to provide the bare essentials of food, clothing and housing.

But health care isn’t a matter of sexual harassment. Neither is keeping the family together, avoiding having parents deported and ripped from children born here. So it isn’t a matter of natural rights or dignity, but rather simple policy preferences for progressives to want health care and DACA, but not to fly into paroxysms of rage when Republican Party WOMEN vote to take rights and services away from poor women and their children.

Similarly education, at least sufficient to be able to work in modern capitalist society, is not a matter of fundamental right or dignity. So it isn’t sexual abuse when Betsy deVos gives Department of Education money to schools that teach little girls that they are inferior to boys, and that god wants them to be submissive and obedient to men and the “natural desires” that god gives to men. It isn’t sexual abuse when Ted Cruz sticks into the new tax bill a provision allowing tax breaks for Mormons and Southern Baptists to home school their children with religious doctrines of sexual inequality and submissiveness for women.

What if we said that using government money to teach little children that girls are inferior, and that boys should be allowed to “have their way” with girls, IS sexual abuse?

The Republican Party has a long history of claiming “Family Values” as their issue. But their “morality” supports breaking up families on altars of border security and racial purity. Despite reams of research developed over decades of study, showing that intact families yield healthier (physically and mentally) children, keeping families intact has never been a Republican Party “Family Value”.

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This is logical. The Republican Party focuses on what drives a profit. The Southern Baptist religion was founded by plantation owners to oppose the Christian Baptists who opposed slavery. Businesses want profits, and breaking up families, by selling members “down the river,” from the 17th through the 19th centuries, and by forcing children to work in factories until they dropped, in the 19th and 20th centuries, has always been profitable. Hence breaking up families for profit has always been Republican Party policy. It is a Republican “Family Value.”

But what if we broadened the scope of what is “sexual abuse”? What if we said that using government money to teach little children that girls are inferior, and that boys should be allowed to “have their way” with girls, IS sexual abuse? What if we said that employers, or fathers, or politicians telling women how to live their own sex lives IS sexual abuse? What if we said that religious freedom INCLUDES the right to decide to follow religions that allow self-control of reproductive systems?

What if we tried to motivate women, minority, perhaps even white male voters by paying attention to complex issues that immediately affect their daily lives, as much as we pay attention to the sexy salacious issues that are easy to get worked up about, without having to propose any real solutions?

The left-wing blogosphere appears ecstatic about the 2018 midterm elections. Pointing to polls showing disgust with the Donald, and outrage at the new tax scam, and thrilled by the recent election wins in Alabama, New Jersey and Virginia. “SwingLeft” a fundraising operation of the Democratic Party, led off with “Make. Them. Pay.” Asking people to contribute to a campaign to punish Republican candidates for their Party’s misconduct. “Democracy for America” was more narrowly focused, “Make sure Paul Ryan regrets this bill.” Every other Democratic Party operation is out with similar messages: Punish Republicans.

But NONE of these looks at what has actually happened where voters got motivated to GET OUT and VOTE. Doug Jones was elected Senator on the backs of BLACK WOMEN who got themselves and their neighbors motivated and organized long before sexual harassment and abuse became the mainstream cause-de-jour. They got motivated because they saw who Roy Moore was, and that he was going to join the Republican Party’s increasingly racist, anti-women, anti-jobs, anti-science agenda, and was going to have a significant impact on their already hard lives.

Maybe some progressives should look more deeply at what issues really affect people in their daily lives. The Republican Party’s war on undocumented people who actually WORK and SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL and PAY WITHHOLDING TAXES (and at what employers don’t send the withheld taxes along to the governments).

How about looking at sexual abuse from the viewpoint of the women and children who work in sweatshops, or who clean hotel rooms, rather than from the viewpoint of the stars who stay in those hotel rooms?

tom hall

How about campaigning on a claim that sexual abuse includes separating mothers from their young daughters in for-profit immigration “holding” facilities?

How about arguing that it is child abuse to slash school budgets to a point where schools can’t provide adequate teacher staffing, or teaching materials, let alone adequate security?

How about arguing that it is both child abuse and racism to allow oil drilling and pipeline companies to “eminent domain” land, and then spill oil into local water sources, poisoning (mostly minority, mostly poor) children?

Basically, how about looking at issues that directly impact the least politically active in our society, and promoting policies that directly improve the lives of people, rather than simply making more hollow sounding general promises that our candidates will make things better?

Campaigning on real, tangible issues and promises to implement specific fixes worked for the Grange movement in the 19th century, and for the progressive movement at the start of the 20th century, and for FDR. Why not give it a try again during the 2018 election cycle?

Tom Hall

Tom Hall