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Reproductive Rights 116th Congress

August Mulvihill, of Norwalk, Iowa, holds a sign depicting a wire hanger during a May 21, 2019, rally to protest recent abortion bans put forward in several state legislatures at the Statehouse in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from regular LA Progressive contributor Larry Wines, who commented on the article by Eric A. Gordon, "Reproductive Rights in the 116th Congress: A Clear Partisan Divide."

Eric Gordon’s piece provides some good resources and clearly shows the polarization in congressional voting records. It’s a keeper, even if it has the overall feel of a brochure for the “Population Connection” organization.

He gives attention to the needs of the electorate and the apparent disconnect with their lawmakers’ votes and there; he leaves us with unresolved mystery. In part, that happens because he does not explore two points.

One is, the current form of our capitalistic system emphasizes often contradictory image-based primacy while pursuing endless growth. Thus, no matter how green their rhetoric, the corporatocracy remains devoted to impossible notions of ever-larger markets comprised of evermore development accommodating the needs of evermore individuals. That model sees everyone as a consumer who can be targeted to buy something and form brand loyalty. At its root, it requires population growth and unfettered extractive exploitation of resources on a planet of finite resources and declining ability to sustain assaults on an ever-less resilient environment.

The second point I believe he could have explored to avoid the mystery he left us is at the intersection of sociopolitical and cultural. It is the realm so effectively exploited by the religionistas, across racial and ethnic gulfs that divide people on economic issues, but unite key voting blocs to the detriment of reproductive rights.

This one gets complex in a hurry, and dashing through can only hope to raise a red flag for awareness.

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That said, and oversimplifying things, it’s based on a primacy of opposition to abortion that trumps all else. (Double entendre intended, since the Commander-in-Tweet is the latest beneficiary of this voting bloc.) Attendees of black churches are as susceptible to its siren song as are fundamentalist whites who attend their version of non-denominational, full-gospel, creationist, evangelical, prostelityzing, celebrate-the-impending-apocalypse, you-are-superior-because-you’re-here-in-agreement “believers.” And don’t forget that official doctrine of the Catholic church aligns with them when it comes to abortion.

Nevermind that these flyover state churchgoers cannot see that their devotion is being exploited by a snakeoil salesman who has literally violated every one of the Ten Commandments. They are quite willing to overlook that because, like every Republican president since Reagan, he voices the right thing on abortion.

It should be clear that the Bible Belt and dependable red states include the nation’s poorest states. Yet those very places remain in the vanguard of Trumpism and their elected Republican representatives have had to abandon the traditional GOP agenda from fear of losing their seats.

Nevermind that these flyover state churchgoers cannot see that their devotion is being exploited by a snakeoil salesman who has literally violated every one of the Ten Commandments. They are quite willing to overlook that because, like every Republican president since Reagan, he voices the right thing on abortion.

Such an intentionally limited view of human reproduction — including all the aspects Mr. Gordon presents — ends-up crossing racial and ethnic lines, and, all by itself, explains why red state support is maintained for a bloviating buffoon. It’s because he delivers anti-abortion judges and Supreme Court justices. And he delivers while fighting the cultural war, evoking the bearer of the fiery sword against all the wicked liberals who want to kill babies.

Compared to banning abortion and persecuting anyone who advocates for it, there are no second-tier issues for an important sector — and voting bloc — in the American population. Even when their own economic interests are not served.

I don’t like citing problems with someone else’s argument without pointing to a better solution. As for how to handle the religion-based “values voters” that sabotage reproduction rights and support Trump?

You can point out, with informed specifics, how their leaders have flagrantly violated the Ten Commandments. (Citing Trump is a fish-in-a-barrel proposition.) When it comes to their crusading congressional and other elected representatives? You can often use that same argument (depending on who their representatives and senators are) while adding that their crusading righteous religionistas are the ones whose devotion to the corporate moneychangers in the temple of government sold-out to a corporatocracy that has moved their jobs to China.

Finally, if you’re not getting anywhere anyway, ask them how they can claim religious adherence to a personal savior who was homeless and gave everything to the poor, while backing televangelists and demonstrably self-serving elected officials who live in multimillion dollar mansions.