Some people never seem to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately for our country, Vice President Mike Pence appears to be one of those stubborn personalities. On Thursday, Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote that cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides health services to women which range from HIV screenings to counseling for family planning. But this isn’t the first time Mike Pence has cut Planned Parenthood’s funding and you would have thought Mr. Pence learned his lesson from his last bite at Eden’s apple. As the Governor of Indiana, Pence similarly shuttered the doors on Planned Parenthood clinics throughout his state and the result was a massive HIV outbreak. Scott County is one of the poorest counties in Indiana. Health studies ranked Scott County as the most unhealthy county out of all 92 counties in the state. Prior to Pence’s pursuit of the deceptively appealing goal of gutting Planned Parenthood funding, there was only one HIV testing center in the entire county. When Pence shuttered the facility, there wouldn’t be any testing available in the county for another two years. The result was an explosion of 20 new HIV cases per week in a community with a population of less than 20,000 people. A mushroom cloud of HIV infections swept across one of Indiana’s poorest communities and was directly linked to Pence’s decision to place the long sought after goal of attacking a political enemy, above common sense and intelligent health policy.
The obsession with cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding finds its justification for eliminating the group’s vital services, in the war against abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood. The saddest of ironies in this cautionary tale is that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County didn’t provide abortion services. As the Vice-President and the GOP prepare to cut even more funding for drug treatment programs, they risk turning the entire country into Scott County. Some people never learn from their mistakes.
A recent incident involving Chris Christie, the NFL Draft and a bong mask seem to exemplify everything that has been wrong with the drug war. Chris Christie has been among several notable Republicans that seem to have changed their party’s stance on the drug war, emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation instead of the party’s traditional law and order stance that promoted incarceration. Christie said at a recent New Hampshire GOP Debate, hosted by ABC News that drug addiction was not a “moral failing” which was a direct rebuke of the party’s most popular rhetoric that viewed drug use as a failure of personal responsibility. “It is a disease” Christie barked as he voiced his support for programs designed to help rather then lockup those engaged in hardcore drug use like heroine addicts. Christie is hardly alone in his sudden shift. As the demographics around drug use have shifted, the feelings regarding how we treat users have also shifted, seemingly due to the rise of Methamphetamine use in poor white communities and the growth of heroine use that now ravages white communities of every class standing. The GOP no longer wishes to “throw away the key” with drug users. GOP Governors all over the country are now even becoming more amenable to restoring voting rights for some felons. And it is hard to ignore that this shift seems to coincide with the rising drug use of the GOP’s traditional voting base. GOP Presidential Contender Ted Cruz sadly lost his sister to an overdose and long battle with drug use. The shift would be hypocritical but forgivable as the GOP finally sees the humanity in addicts that are within their own families now but Chris Christie recently demonstrated that the bias that has incarcerated a full generation of black sons and fathers persists in his heart.
NFL Draftee Laremy Tunsil recently suffered a catastrophic decline in his draft standing when a hacker posted a picture of the young man smoking marijuana from bong and mask. The picture proved to be costly for Tunsil but Chris Christie wants it to be even more devastating. He has called for Tunsil to be arrested. “When I was a prosecutor, I would’ve gone in and cuffed this guy” said Christie, further exemplifying the judicial bias that has stalked black men and resulted in an obscene rate of incarceration. The comment is noted for the zeal and enthusiasm to pursue prosecution against an African American male but it is punctuated by Christie’s own recent comments calling for leniency for hardcore heroine users. The interest of a former U.S. Attorney in prosecuting a young man taking bong hits in his dorm room is emblematic of the obsessive pursuit of African Americans by law enforcement in policies like Stop and Frisk which in defiance of statistical reality focused almost entirely on scrutinizing black men. It also answers the often asked and insincere question regarding the high rate of black male incarceration. Blacks comprise so much of our prison population because men like Chris Christie have enforced existing law with extreme prejudice against minority communities. Christie is a Trump supporter and potential Vice Presidential pick. Hopefully he can recognize his bias before America entrusts him with another position of authority and more power over minority communities.