The GOP is Creating a Handmaid’s Tale America

MY TURN-In only a few years we will hit the one hundred-year milestone for American women achieving the right to vote.

But voting was just a small step, because within the lifetime of many women who are alive, fifty years later, in 1970, women couldn’t get a credit card or a real estate loan without a father or even ex-husband (no matter how crazy) as a co-signer. Today, this sounds incredibly bizarre, but this was a world the conservatives reveled in; when they long to return to the “good ol’ days” this is just part of what they are talking about. The Republicans are now a party of extremists that has been working to slowly chip away at women’s rights and freedoms, one at a time. 

Historians agree that the single factor that launched the women’s rights movement of the 60s and 70s centered-around reproductive freedoms. Once women had the ability to control their own bodies as well as their choices to have children (or not), this catapulted a revolution for women to go to college in larger numbers for the purpose of achieving life-long professions. It also empowered women to make their own choices about their sexuality without the confines and bindings of religious persecution. For the first time, women could control their personal destinies. 

If there is anything that had the conservatives yelling and pulling their hair out, it was the women’s revolution. They have devoted years to the process of demonizing the word “feminist” as something that means extremists who are man-haters and anti-family. They’ve beat the drums of their idiocy for so long, often repeating it from their pseudo-Christian pulpits, that every God-fearing, self-loathing conservative female holds tightly to their Bibles as they demean the ideas of women’s rights and independence. While it’s bad enough that men want to assert total control over women, they have succeeded in one thing: the creation of conservative women suffering from low self-esteem and possibly Stockholm syndrome to such a degree that they support these sick philosophies. 

This long-term negative attitude that the conservatives have grasped onto is their death song. It represents the last vestiges of what they think is part of their values. They are desperate to get things back to the way they were. If you have watched Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the book by Margaret Atwood, you have observed the alteration of the world familiar to us into an overnight transition to a horror-filled dystopian existence. 

In the story, the discovery of the massive reduction of fertility enabled extremist Christians to cherry-pick sections of the Bible and create an entirely new society where women able to bear children are placed into a kind of slavery and women as a whole are segmented as second-class citizens. Only men hold the power to govern and make decisions and anything outside of the predetermined values that they set is considered against the law with devastating consequences. Here, the United States as we know it exists no longer and anyone who wants to combat the system must choose to try to escape to another country.

 (Image Source: Hulu)

“There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware” - Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield 

Unlike the story that unfolds in The Handmaid’s Tale, the changes occurring today are based on both large and small alterations, with the main focus being that people should simply accept them. We can start with the most recent events of immigrant families being ripped apart and placed in detention camps or exported. Children, mere babies, being held at gunpoint by ICE, with the complete support of the conservatives of the country. Their “war on women” also includes the inability of women to protect themselves against violence, equality in the workplace, and even the definition of “rape.” 

Although both the liberals and members of the world community have expressed outrage, the Republicans know that things will calm down and the media will turn to the next bone thrown to them for attention, leaving this topic behind. Once the acceptance process is complete, they can move on to the next group they will attack, who will become the “enemies” of the people and the government. One step at a time, there will be an undermining of the very freedoms that people of color, other religions and women have as part of our Democratic experiment. 

This isn’t paranoid rhetoric; it’s what is happening now. The single main aspect of taking control for the Republicans is to demean and then remove the rights of American women. As a population as well as liberal demographics, we outnumber them, but since they are now in power they are honing their skills at taking away as many rights as possible and it begins with reproductive rights. 

GQcovers this subject in their article, “The Republicans’ War on Women Is a Clear and Present Danger.” 

“American women are having their rights stripped away.” ‘If that seems like hyperbole to you, you aren’t paying attention. Title IX’s application in college sexual-assault cases has been dialed back by Betsy DeVos. The Republicans have repeatedly attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that it provides countless non-abortion medical procedures. They’ve passed a bill in the House that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, despite the fact that the great majority of late-term abortions are performed due to health concerns for the mother, the fetus, or both. And now it’s been reported that employers can opt out of paying for birth control if the company has a religious or moral objection. All the while, Republicans have been attempting to kill Obamacare one way or another, with all of their attempts sharing one thing in common: Millions of people would lose insurance and premiums would go up tremendously. Oh, and they also are doing nothing to help get paid family leave, fight the wage gap, or make child care more affordable.’” 

The writer continues with: “This administration (and the Republican Party) are making it harder for a woman to be able to go to college with the confidence that their school will put their safety first. Republicans are making it so women can’t afford birth control, which will likely lead to more pregnancies, which they are forcing women to carry to term even when they pose a real threat to the woman’s or fetus’s health (and at great personal expense, what with the lack of access to affordable health care), only to give birth to a child who will also suffer from a lack of health care and will have a mother who can’t get paid family leave, affordable child care, or the same amount of money her male colleague is making.” 

When you remove the ability for women to control their own health, family and educational choices, you pull the rug out from under them so that they are required to depend on a male figure for survival. They are then chained to a household with a passel of kids that they may not have wanted, and we see a return to the exact condition that the conservatives hold near and dear to their hearts.

 (Image Source: Hulu) 

Republicans Want to Punish Protestors 

Protest and demonstrations are a part of American history. From the Boston Tea Party to the Suffragettes, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, the Vietnam War, the environment and just about every single important milestone involving our country, protesting has served as a platform to alter both personal and political opinions. Of course, conservatives don’t look at it that way. To them, today’s protesters are disrupters of their agenda. They spew ignorant comments about liberal protestors causing trouble, property damage and even accusing them of “not having jobs” or “being paid”. In reality, they have no understanding of the kind of demonstrations that are required to create change; it goes against their Fox-brainwashed little world. 

However, just because conservatives don’t understand or want to know about history, doesn’t mean that they will stop from trying to punish people who want to have their voices heard for equality. While the American people are sitting back, worried about paying the rent or mortgage, going food shopping or attending that soccer game, various Republicans in power on the state level have been trying to push legislation forward that punishes those who protest or demonstrate. 

The only thing separating the laws that have been introduced and their passage has been the incredibe organization of the ACLU (The American Civil Liberties Union). Each time one of these restrictive laws are attempted, the ACLU has stepped in to challenge them. They offer some of the information in their article: “Anti-Protest Bills Around the Country.” 

“In response to epic protests around the country, state legislators in nearly 20 states proposed bills in 2017 that would restrict people’s right to protest. The ACLU fought back and many of the bills died or were amended to remove unconstitutional language. For those that passed, we’re hopeful that protestors will exercise their right to dissent and courts will prevent the use of these laws to unconstitutionally burden protest activity.” 

The ACLU offers an additional article that includes both more details as well as the insidious back reasons for the laws that are really designed to remove rights: “Where Protests Flourish, Anti-Protest Bills Follow.” 

“Over the past year, a historic level of activism and protest has spilled out into our nation’s parks, streets, and sidewalks — places where our First Amendment rights are at their height. The January 21 Women’s March, anchored in D.C. with echoes across the nation, was likely the single largest day of protest in American history. And yet, legislators in many states have followed up on this exuberant activism with proposed bills that are not only far less inspiring, but also unconstitutional.” 

Using the only thing conservatives can come up with, they fall back on setting new local and state requirements for permits, prohibitions against blocking traffic or sidewalks or any of the many smaller obstacles they can create. Permits must include proof of having either paid or volunteers clean up after the protest, etc. 

Thankfully, “we the people” who are involved in the protests can also fall back on a few laws: walking on sidewalks and driving on the streets “isn’t a right — it’s a privilege”, and so most of their talking and arguing points are moot. But that doesn’t mean that the local law enforcement members who support conservative causes as well as the extremist conservative groups that show up with tiki torches and guns won’t support their incorrect ideologies. 

Koch Brothers and Republicans Moving to Change the Constitution 

Since the 1990s, the Koch Brothers, well-known for their extreme conservative/libertarian views backed by billions of dollars, have been moving forward to create a Constitutional Convention. And if you haven’t been aware of it, you aren’t alone. The fact that they are only six states away from achieving it, should scare the crap out of you. 

Esquirecovers some of the information that should offer updates in their article:  “Why Do the Koch Brothers Want a Convention of States?” 

“Right now, the people pushing the convention — and we’ll get to them in a minute — have commitments from 28 state legislatures. They need 34 to trigger the Constitution’s provision for a “convention of the states.” Four states are on the verge of voting on the issue now: South Carolina, Kentucky, Montana, and Idaho. (South Carolina has an unfortunate history with the consequences of disunion as a political tactic, which it apparently has been encouraged to forget.) If the convention is called, the disunion that has become a faith in some conservative quarters will run amok. Economic oligarchy will be established in law, and any political check on the powers of business likely will be eviscerated. 

As to the former, the Koch Brothers and other aspiring oligarchs are the money behind the movement toward a convention. As to the latter, the whole thing is being sold under the camouflage of a desire to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution — aka The Worst Idea In American Politics. But even the late Antonin Scalia admitted that a convention so called cannot be limited to one topic, and, anyway, a visit to the website of Convention of the States Project, one of the most prominent organizations in favor of the convention, reveals that the convention is a device for profound political sabotage.” 

I also include additional information in my article“Republicans Move States Forward In Rewriting the Constitution,”in which I include the quote: 

The explanation of what is going on was described in a prwatch.org article

A constitutional convention, something thought impossible not long ago, is looking increasingly likely. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, if 34 state legislatures “issue a call” for a constitutional convention, Congress must convene one. By some counts, the right-wing only needs six more states. Once called, delegates can propose and vote on changes and new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which, if approved, are currently required to be ratified by 38 states. 

There are two major legislative pushes for a convention at the state level. One would attempt to engineer a convention for a balanced budget amendment only, and the other tries to secure an open convention for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. But once a convention is underway, all bets are off. The convention can write its own rules, resulting in a wide-open or “runaway” convention that can make major changes to the constitution and, some argue, even change the number of states required to ratify those changes. 

(Image Source: @TaylorLorenz‏ via Twitter)

If America gets saddled with a runaway convention, the Koch coterie of funders will be to blame. Most of the groups pushing the convention idea are being underwritten by one or more institutions tied to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.” 

So, There You Have It: An American Takeover 

Let’s examine the pieces of the puzzle that have thus far been covered: The removal of all rights for women, the attempted rewriting of the American Constitution, punishing anyone who doesn’t comply with or follow the redesigned and cherry-picked Christianity, making protesting or demonstrating illegal, the acceptance of violence and incarceration for children and families. 

We assume that the only thing that might protect us from the complete destruction of the American way as we know it is with our right to vote. But let’s add that piece in now, as we have seen deliberate interference with elections by the Russians, supported by the GOP who are being paid by Russian oligarchs, and we have a recipe for the fall of Democracy in the United States. 

The question is: what are you going to do about it? Will we see a compliant populace, willing to accept all of these sick and twisted changes or will you stand up for the freedoms that so many fought and died for? 

It’s up to you.

 

(S. Novi is a journalist who worked in the media and continues to seek out truth and integrity. A liberal and one that is suspicious of cults and empty promises. This piece first appeared on Medium.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.