Why the GOP can walk all over its voters–and get away with it

The GOP finally got their bill to repeal and replace the ACA out the house. It’ll now go to the senate, where it’s pretty much doomed. If it doesn’t collapse altogether, it’ll be sent back as a much different bill. Regardless, pundits and experts are predicting that the AHCA has shown the republican hand, namely that they care more about tax cuts for the rich and not at all about your health.

That’s certainly true.

The bill sees hundreds of millions of dollars cut from medicaid and a corresponding tax break for the wealthy. It also allows insurers to drop you if you become ill or have a pre-existing condition. It’ll raise premiums for the elderly. It’s just an awful, awful bill. Which is why pundits are predicting a major backlash against the party come 2018.

I don’t think we’re going to see that.

Ultimately, a few red districts in blue states may flip, but it won’t be enough to shift the balance of power. Because I don’t think that this will perturb republican voters. History has shown, time after time, that they’ll vote against their own self-interest and I don’t think that this moment in history is an exception. Many of the deep red states have had republican governors, legislatures, and courts for 30+ years. And yet things keep getting worse for those states. If republican voters were ever going to finally wake up to the fact that they’re voting against their own interests, it would have happened by now. In fact, it’s probably never going to happen.

Here, take a look at this:

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Every single one of those states is solid red, and every single one voted for Trump. And every single one of those voters with a pre-existing condition will see their insurance either disappear or skyrocket in price. But I’m willing to wager that come 2018 they’ll still vote for the very same congressman who voted to strip them of healthcare. Why? Because many republicans are single issue voters. And what is that issue, you ask?

Abortion.

As long the GOP continues to be the party that opposes abortion and wants to overturn Row v. Wade they can pretty much do whatever they want to voters and still get re-elected.

59% of republican voters think abortion should always be illegal. Even among moderate or ‘liberal’ republicans, 41% think it should always be illegal. And that number has shifted up from where it stood in 1995; 20 years go, republicans were split almost evenly, 49%/48%. In the last two decades, republican voters have only become more conservative on this issue. In 2015, 21 percent of Americans said they would only vote for a candidate who shared their abortion views, up from 13 percent in 2008.

Particularly ironic, given that the AHCA isn’t friendly to pregnant women or babies and children. But I digress.

Economically, many conservatives align with progressive values. 52% of republicans with family incomes <$30,000 say the government has a responsibility to provide healthcare coverage for everyone, up from 31% just last year. And in a recent Gallup poll, 45% of republicans said they think the wealthy don’t pay their fair share in taxes. They hate those free trade deals that sent their jobs overseas–something Bernie Sanders talked about extensively during the election.  In other words, conservative voters know that they’re getting screwed over economically. As time goes on, they seem to be getting more progressive economically.

And yet…when it’s time to step into that voting booth, they always pull the red lever. And what does it get them? Healthcare? Gone. Overtime pay? Gone.  Clean water and air? Gone, too. Taxes? More income redistributed from the middle and lower classes to the donor class.

But hey, abortion, right?

Biblical authority, Christianity, and a conversation with God.

I peruse the blogs over in the religious section occasionally. I find it entertaining and in rare instances somewhat enlightening. This evening there was certainly a trend in the blogging, and it basically boils down to this: Christianity shouldn’t change so that it might become more socially relevant or attractive to the liberal masses. This blog and this blog are two great examples of the alleged problem of trying to modernize religion or make it relevant for the 21st century. Ultimately, so the argument goes, you’re fundamentally changing what the religion is at its core if you allow things like accepting homosexuals or evolution or cosmology. You’re diminishing biblical authority and that, in effect, is blasphemy.

I find this idea very interesting and perplexing, because ultimately it seems to value process over substance. This school of thought seems to assert, most likely unknowingly, that the most important part of Christianity is the ritual involved. More specifically, that acceptance of biblical authority is an all-or-nothing measure of how “real” a Christian one is.

But let’s perform a thought experiment. Let’s imagine a man, and let’s call him John. John identifies as a Christian. John loves God and accepts Christ as his personal lord and savior. And John worships God every Sunday at church. John isn’t perfect–nobody is–but he leads a “good” life: he gives to charity, volunteers to help his fellow man in his free time, he’s even gone with members of his his church to help build more churches in third world countries. John waited until he was married to have sex, and was married to the same woman his entire life. But John also helped to integrate gays into his church and community, and even supported gay marriage. Now let’s suppose that after a long life, John dies and he stands before God. Imagine the following conversation:

God: “John, you accepted me in your heart, you worshiped me faithfully, and you did my work on earth. But I must condemn you because of your support of homosexuals. Why did you do that, John?”

John: “Did Jesus not teach us to love thy neighbor? Well, Bob and Rick were my neighbors, and therefore I loved them like the rest of my fellow man.”

God: “But they were committing blasphemy against the church.”

John: “It is not my right to judge, but yours.”

God: “What about all of that stuff I put in the bible about ‘men not laying with men as they would with women’? They offend the bible and me!”

John: “When Jesus gave the sermon on the mount, did he not teach us to turn the other cheek? To love even our enemies?”

The dialogue could go on. And you could replace the homosexuals with evolution, the big bang theory, abortion, or anything else expressly forbidden by the bible. Imagine you are God. What would you say to John’s retorts?

One moment the bible is full of wrath and vengeance and the blood of the lamb, and the next moment it’s full of peace and love and not throwing stones. Which parts do you think God would have you embrace? Do you think that owning slaves and stoning people who work on Sunday are as equally important as loving thy neighbor and turning the other cheek? Aren’t those conflicting principles, though?

If people are going to make anything all or nothing in Christianity, let it be the parts about loving your fellow man, turning the other cheek, the tale of the good Samaritan, letting he who is without sin cast the first stone. If you spend your time denigrating, judging, and oppressing certain groups of people, I’d say you’ve missed the most important parts of the bible.

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Why don’t we stop worrying about imaginary children and help ones that really exist

I am getting downright sick and tired of all of these “moral” arguments against abortion coming from Christians. And I’ll tell you why.

Christians love to denigrate people who are pro-choice based on their alleged moral superiority. The fact of the matter is, though, that not everyone is capable of dealing with, say, a disabled child. Or a child at all, for that matter. So what about adoption? That’s usually a popular response from the pro-life Christian crowd. I don’t see too many people rushing out to adopt crack babies, do you guys? Okay, that’s a rather blase statement I just made, but I’ll back it up with some numbers.

UNICEF estimates that there are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets in the world. According to Pew, there are 2.18 BILLION Christians in the world. So why don’t they all step up, then? Hmm? If only ONE PERCENT of Christians actually walked the walk, every orphan in the world would have a loving, Christian home.

In 2012, 23,396 youth aged out of the U.S. foster care system without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed. There are about 130 million self-professed Christians in the US. And 23k of them couldn’t step up the plate and do the Christian thing? Seems pretty suspect to me. But we can do one better.

Every year in the world more people die from a lack of clean water than all forms of violence in the world–even war. The UN estimates that it would cost $10 billion a year to fix this problem. That’s less than what Americans spend feeding the family dog every year. It’s half of what Europeans spend annually on alcohol. The cost per year to end world hunger? $30 billion dollars. In the US alone, religious institutions dodge taxes to the tune of $71 billion annually. That’s enough to end world hunger, provide everyone with clean drinking water, and still have about $30 billion left over. So where does all that money go? Because it certainly isn’t going to actually solving any problems that are killing living children in the world right now.

And that’s what bugs me the most about these “moral” arguments. People of faith talk a good talk, but they can’t even put their money where their mouth is. It’s very easy to sit behind a bible and judge people and deliver sermons and quote scripture. But that won’t feed a hungry child. It won’t put a roof over a child’s head. So rather than lecture the world about how evil abortions are, why don’t all the Christians in the world lead by example and all adopt a child? Or end world hunger? Or give children clean drinking water? They’ll do everything they can to save a fertilized egg. But once you’ve already made it into this world? Screw you, you’re on your own!

So next time that collection plate comes around, Christians of the world, instead of putting that dollar in the collection basket so that the Vatican can pay off another child molestation scandal or so your mega Church pastor can get caught cheating on his wife with gay prostitutes on your dime (that last thing actually happened, by the way), or even so that you can build another Our Lady of Tax Evasion chapel down the street, put your money where it will actually make a difference. Try taking that church collection money to UNICEF and do some real good in this world for a real, living, suffering child.

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An interesting thought experiment on abortion

First of all, I’d like to make it clear that I am pro-choice. However, I also understand that there are plenty of logical, legitimate reasons why one would be pro-life. Personally, morality for me is a subjective thing, a psychological tool that human beings use. All of that being said, my brother sent me an interesting thought experiment designed to be presented to the pro-life camp. It goes a little something like this:

In one hand I hold an infant.

In the other hand I hold a Petri dish containing a fertilized egg.

In one minute, I’m going to drop one of them. However, you get to decide which one.

So which one do you save?

Take a moment to think about and answer that question.

I find this an interesting thought experiment because it directly addresses one of the main arguments that pro-life people use: life begins at conception; that little cluster of cells is alive, and it’s a human being. If one truly believes that life begins at conception, then that fertilized egg should hold as much value as the fully formed infant. Yet the designers of the experiment are willing to postulate that most people–regardless of their stance on abortion–will pick the fully formed child over the Petri dish. Interesting to think about.