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.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the American Healthcare Act. Despite, holding both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Republicans are expected to vote down their own bill. The reform will cost 24 million Americans their healthcare. It slashes Medicaid and will raise premiums on all but the young and healthy. After 7 years of opposing Obamacare, the Republicans have managed to write a bill that fails to satisfy any of the ideological metrics that Republicans have used to assault Obamacare. Most prognosticators are certain that the AHCA will fail in a fantastic display of legislative pyrotechnics. TrumpCare, if you ask Paul Ryan or RyanCare, if you ask the Whitehouse, is so unpopular that the Whitehouse and Speaker of the House have publicly jousted regarding which Nom De Plume will go on the bill, with neither side desirous of having the dishonor. As the Republicans tempt fate and court decimation in the midterm elections, where are the Democrats? An article in The Politico offers an answer. “The Democrats New Obamacare Strategy: Get Out of The Way”. As a legislative strategy, this is largely the right approach. Democrats should not try to stall republican attempts to vote on a bill that reveals how their party has abdicated its core principles and were perhaps never sincere in their criticism of Obamacare. However, “Get Out of The Way” also seems to be the ethos of the national party. In an epic failure to capitalize, Democrats nationally have not used the disastrous AHCA as a mobilizing tool. Together, with the equally reviled Trump-Budget, the Democrats could easily assemble the ultimate Megazord to fight the GOP in the midterms. And yet, the Democrats have not begun to lay the foundation for an effective mid-term effort. The Democrats should have already hired new organizers and deployed them in the backyards of rural Republican districts. Organizing wins’ elections but Organizing isn’t about phone-calls or door to door. The foundation of Organizing is about building relationships and as Republicans turn their backs on the voters that elected them by offering policies that gut the programs those voters depend on, Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to build new relationships with rural voters. As these rural Republican voters are forced to confront the reality that they need government programs just as much as the inner cities Republicans often lampoon, the Democrats have a chance to expose the core Republican obsession with the gutting of government programs as fundamentally flawed. Never before have Democrats had such an obvious opportunity to bring about a fundamental collapse of Republican orthodoxy by laying siege to the foundations and overly simplistic principles of the GOP. As rural Republican voters suddenly realize that they are just as dependent on government funding as liberal bastions and minority communities, Democrats have a real chance to batter the intellectual pillars that have buttressed conservative thought since the era of William F. Buckley. And what are Democrats doing instead: They are Getting Out of The Way. Democrats should have been using this time to reconstitute their army of Organizers and begin deploying them to the rural communities that roundly rejected their message in the last election. They can now show those voters the true cost of Republican cuts and argue forcefully for the power of government to improve their lives. The Dems should be giving Organizers the time it takes to build bonds with these new prospective voters who often hail from regions where being a Democrat is socially synonymous with being a communist. Democrats cannot afford to implement the “tried and failed” strategy of waiting until shortly before the mid-term or the Presidential election to deploy Organizers in the hope of making gains in communities that have believed for generations that being a Democrat is akin to being a traitor. The achilles heel of the Democratic Party is a lack of a sustained presence in these communities that nurtures and builds relationships with these votes. For the first time in a long time, these voters have eyes and ears to hear the message of the Democratic Party. The Democrats cannot afford to miss this opportunity.