The GOP Knows That All Politics Are Local

I recently wrote about the true focus of the GOP and cautioned against being distracted by their “sleight of hand”.  I noted that while we watch the drama in Washington play itself out on a variety of tantalizing fronts, the real action is on the state and local levels.  The goal of the GOP is simple.

GOP Leaders
GOP Leaders (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

They want to avoid allowing any positive movement on any issue that is important to the Obama administration so that they can feed their base while moving ahead on the most conservative agenda possible on the state level.    They have accomplished this by crying “scandal” at every opportunity and utilizing the rules of Congress to prevent any action on the floor.  In specific terms, the GOP is focusing its energies on state laws related to abortion, voting rights, education, same sex marriage, Obamacare and gun control.  The states have the prerogative to pass laws on any of these issues as long as they are not in direct conflict with existing federal law.

Let’s get specific about what is going on at the state level.  In the area of education there are two things currently at play.  First, the Tea Party is pressuring “red state” governors to reject a  bipartisan effort by President Obama to reinvigorate learning in our public schools by instituting “common core state standards “.  This would mean that students in Mississippi would be learning in the same way that children in Wisconsin are.  Naturally the Tea Party is screaming that it is just a ploy for the federal government to remove control of the schools from local hands.  Second, many state legislatures are continuing to press for the teaching of “creationism” and diminishing the importance of science.  If they succeed, we will be raising a generation of anti-science ignoramuses with little ability to compete in the real world.

In the past 12 months 15 states have passed highly restrictive abortion laws and 12 states have passed highly restrictive voting rights bills.  There are more of each kind of law moving their way through legislatures throughout the country.  GOP controlled state legislatures are not concerned about the national polls on these issues or what happens on the federal level. These are deferred to the individual states.  With regard to abortion,women in some states have to travel hundreds of miles to receive an abortion, sometimes to another state. In the area of voting rights, demographic changes have created new voting blocs as ethnic majorities shift.  The GOP will not allow these shifts to impact on their “way of life” without a fight.

The implementation of Obamacare, while being dealt with as a political football by Republicans,  will truly impact on issues of life and death.  Rather than allowing for the reality that Obamacare will provide life saving healthcare to all who need it, the GOP is politicizing the program and doing everything it can, on the state level, to doom it.  Of course, the irony is that this program was originally conceptualized by the Heritage Foundation, a Republican think tank, and adopted by a Republican governor,  Mitt Romney, for use in Massachusetts.  However, as long as it was passed and initiated by the Obama administration, red states see it as a national disaster.  Since much of its implementation must occur on the state level, they, to their delight, may be playing out a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are now 11 states that have passed bills allowing for same sex marriage.  Naturally, red states will not be pursuing this line of legislation in the near future.  This will obviously deprive gay couples in many states of the right to marry, requiring them to go elsewhere to attain this privilege.  It will be interesting to see what happens as the Supreme Court comes down with its ruling this month.  How will it impact the states that have resisted passing legislation approving gay marriage?

Finally, “the right to bear arms” has become another issue championed by the GOP.  The NRA, in concert with conservatives, has used money and power to spread lies and myths.  Two lies are particularly troubling.  Despite the fact that the legislation placed on the floor of the senate would specifically forbid the creation of a national registry of gun ownership, this threat has been elevated to fact by the NRA and GOP.  Of course they follow this up with the fact that this registry will be used by the government to come and confiscate your guns.   They have created a level of hysteria that would be comical if it weren’t so scary. The misreading of the Constitution is very useful when dealing with those who want to believe and don’t care about the facts.

These are all issues that impact on the everyday lives of millions throughout our country. The legitimate question to ask is, “are we still one country?”.  If where you live determines  the quality of life, not because of geography or climate but because of laws or lack thereof, what unifies us?  We have often heard that, “all politics are local”.  The GOP has truly taken that concept and run with it. But this is a race we can’t afford to let them win.


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